Audi considers hydrogen power for R18 racer
Is hydrogen power the future of World Endurance Championship? The Audi R18 could develop the technology for its road cars.
After Audi’s recent disappointment at Le Mans, the team could develop a hydrogen powered version of its R18 LMP1. This move would pitch the brand against BMW’s own ambitions of running a hydrogen powered car as both companies strive to become leaders in the new form of clean technology.
Audi’s technical head of development Stefan Knirsch added “If we wanted to demonstrate our capabilities that way we could do it,” said Knirsch. “But the first thing is that we must be certain that it has a production future. We don’t like to show things that are not leading to a production reality, and at the moment the lack of infrastructure leaves that uncertain.”
If Audi’s hydrogen Le Mans racer did see light, it would be unlikely to race in the premier LMP1 category but rather as Garage 56 which is reserved for experimental concepts like Nissan’s deltawing and this year’s Green GT H2 – the first hydrogen car at Le Mans.
“We are now developing hydrogen fuel cell technology to a serious production level – but the market must decide when we launch it,” said Knirsch. “We are ready, but the infrastructure is still not there, and the relationship between pure electric and hydrogen cars is not clear.
“But when the tipping point comes we will be there.”
The World Endurance Championship, of which Le Mans is the jewel in the crown, forms a vital component of future production car technology. Should Audi manage to leverage its hybrid technology in motor sport, the company will gain a significant advantage over its competitors.
Audi debuted its hydrogen powered H-tron Quattro SUV at this year’s Detroit Motor Show and all upcoming models would benefit from motorsport exposure.