Markus Duesmann, Audi CEO, has confirmed in a recent interview that the firm of the four rings will focus in the coming years on the development of battery-electric models. Thus, from 2026 all the new models launched by the company will be of this type, while by the year 2033 its European range will be made up exclusively of zero-emission vehicles.
On the other hand, Duesmann has also indicated that he does not believe that neither plug-in hybrids nor electric ones with hydrogen fuel cells are a viable solution. According to the manager, there is currently not enough hydrogen from renewable sources in the industry, and if there is, he would prefer to use it in the production of steel.
Therefore, Audi currently does not consider hydrogen to dominate the automotive sector. ‘You need a lot of green electricity, which is first converted into hydrogen and then back into electricity in the car to be transformed into kinetic energy. For me, as an engineer, that is just absurd.
Even though fuel cells currently have an advantage over batteries in terms of refueling speed, Duesmann believes that the charging infrastructure for battery electric cars is much easier to implement than a hydrogen infrastructure. Furthermore, the deployment of charging points is expected to accelerate even more in the coming years.
BMW, unlike Audi and Mercedes-Benz, will continue to bet on the fuel cell
Despite everything, Audi will continue to research and develop this technology to accumulate experience for possible stationary applications. “We believe, however, that our electrical strategy and its technological clarity have great inherent power to them, which has a positive effect on the company and also on society.”
Therefore, Audi aligns itself with the strategy of its rival Mercedes-Benz, which recently abandoned the development of hydrogen fuel cell passenger cars to focus on battery-electric cars. This approach contrasts with that of BMW, which plans to start serial production of such vehicles by the middle of the decade.
As for synthetic fuels produced from renewable sources, Duesmann believes that they could be a solution for the existing fleet of cars with thermal engines; Furthermore, he also believes that they could have potential in the aeronautical sector. Today, Porsche is the main driver of this technology within the Volkswagen Group.