Audi boss Duesmann: Hydrogen in cars “simply absurd”

Audi boss Duesmann: Hydrogen in cars

In an interview with the Auto Zeitung, Markus Duesmann, who has been CEO of Audi since 2020 and at the same time head of group research and development at the VW Group, spoke about – how could it be otherwise – the major disruptions and challenges that the automotive industry is currently confronted with sees. On the one hand, the chip crisis, which continues to drive employees on short-time work even after Corona, causes production lines to stand still and makes managers sweat. “The topic will keep us busy for a long time,” says Duesmann, since the demand for semiconductors “is also increasing so quickly outside the automotive world that it is exceeding the growth in production capacities.”. He expects “there will be turbulence this year and next year”.

The Audi boss rejects the topic of plug-in hybrids as an interim solution on the way to the fully electric age, which the Ingolstadt-based company will start from 2026, as well as hydrogen drive in the passenger car sector: “Plug-in hybrids use combustion engines and are so no electric cars,” is Duesmann‘s dry answer to a question about the controversial part-time electric vehicles. “There is not enough green hydrogen in the world, and if there were, I would rather use it in steel production,” said the Audi boss about another alternative to purely electric driving. There are “many industrial sectors that urgently need hydrogen because they have no other alternative for decarbonization,” he says.

In the passenger car sector, “under the current conditions, there is no significant area of application for the fuel cell. You need a large amount of green electricity, which you first convert into hydrogen, in order to then turn it back into green electricity in the car and convert it into kinetic energy.”. Duesmann, a trained engineer, would find that “simply absurd”. At the end of the day, “it must be clear that even a hydrogen car is only an electric car with a smaller battery”.

However, Audi is continuing to research H2 technologies at the Competence Center in Neckarsulm, “in order to always remain capable of acting with this technology and to gather important experience in good time – also for possible stationary applications”. According to Duesmann, synthetic fuels also have a right to exist, although they have to be produced in an extremely energy-intensive manner: “As long as we continue to pump oil out of the ground and burn it, this planet will be worse off,” he says of fossil fuels. Synthetic fuel that can be produced from renewable sources is a sustainable solution for the existing fleet. Synthetic fuels also make sense for aircraft so that they can be operated in a CO2-neutral manner.

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11 thoughts on “Audi boss Duesmann: Hydrogen in cars “simply absurd””

  1. Good morning!
    I find the topic of “hydrogen in cars” to be practically irrelevant and with the exception of a few manufacturers who are still researching it even now, although the BEV market is taking off, the entire industry obviously sees it that way.
    An article about it is therefore quite dispensable because the statement has already been made hundreds of times.

  2. ‘At the end of the day “it must be clear that even a hydrogen car is only an electric car with a smaller battery”.‘
    I agree. What’s wrong with an electric car with a smaller battery? If it still drives on and can be reloaded quickly.
    A smaller battery is also a cheaper and lighter battery, which also requires less chemicals and energy. This is precisely why hydrogen cars will be an attractive alternative for everything above passenger city cars once the hydrogen components are industrially manufactured.

  3. I refuse to subordinate my life to the mantra “efficiency over practicality”. I will always choose the most practical solution for my budget. Otherwise I could spend my summer vacation on foot in the neighboring town.
    Brings 600kW chargeable, 150kWh batteries into the compact class from 20.000€, then we can talk. Until then, don’t talk operas..
    But the fun mobile remains a light, hand-torn combustion engine even at the weekend, even if I have to mix the fuel myself in the barrel.

  4. The efficiency of the entire hydrogen cycle is so inefficient that anyone who is educated must advise against using it in cars. Not to mention the gas station network. Research in this direction is a sheer waste of resources. When it comes to trucks, it’s worth looking at at best, nothing more.

  5. The hydrogen lobby is not giving up. Companies and suppliers are now dealing with H2 burners, which means that H2 vehicles are even less efficient than with fuel cells. But the manufacturers and their suppliers hope to be able to continue to operate their old systems and build cheap H2 burners.

    With H2 burners, the efficiency should be 45%. 45 to 58 kWh of green electricity (depending on the source) would produce 1kg of hydrogen with 33.33 kWh of energy, of which 15 kWh remained for the drive.

    You need at least 3 times the amount of green electricity for H2 combustion engines compared to BEV.

    I didn’t count the charging losses with BEVs, since with hydrogen the compression is reduced to 350 or 350 kg. 700 bar, cooling when refueling and possibly. there is also a long transport route.

    In contrast to the fuel cell, exhaust gases come out of the exhaust pipe with the H2 burner. Nitrogen oxides in particular should be a problem here, since the sucked-in air consists largely of nitrogen.

    The earth’s atmosphere is for the most part of nitrogen (78%) and oxygen (21%).

    (Source: Chemistry

    Good that VW is against the hydrogen lobby, Many other manufacturers still cling to the hydrogen straw and hope that africa supplies us cheap with hydrogen.

    H2 vehicles are interesting only for miles, but that can not be the future of traffic. It has to be less dangers and transported and battery electrically or with overhead lines on rails.

    I hope the new government tackles the problems and no FDP profile neurotic determines the price of the next few years, otherwise we will not get a pace 130, no 12 euros minimum wage and the corporations are allowed to shorten our private pensions, expand our electricity and pollute the environment.

  6. Duessmann, the head of Audi, rejects the hydrogen drive in cars! class. I also want to be CEO in the auto industry! Especially in the sinking… But I don’t have the right last name – Duesentrieb? Seriously, none of this can be true ..!

  7. A big thank you goes to Mr. Duesmann for his clear words on overall H2 energy efficiency and the escalating madness in the hydrogen hype.

  8. Great article that gets to the heart of the topic of hydrogen. Why should one produce hydrogen with extremely high energy (electricity) in order to then use it again as electricity?

  9. What do you expect in an e-community in the Elektroauto-News-net ?
    A factual discussion of alternatives to e-mobility,
    for example hydrogen? Why can’t hydrogen be a quite
    be a useful addition on the way to a lithium- and cobalt-free e-drive?
    Why must hydrogen necessarily in elaborate stationary facilities
    manufactured, cooled down to -275°C and compressed with up to 750 bar
    and stored in multi-wall tanks, what about a small one
    compact hydrogen gas generation on board and on demand?

    I recommend Jule Verne’s The Mysterious Island from 1870,
    read the opinion of the main character Cyrus Smith, an engineer by the way, on the
    page 410. He commented on the subject of hydrogen more than 140 years ago..

  10. Keep dreaming of your All-Electric-World with the oh so great efficiency. Why is it so difficult to understand that we need a medium to store energy and bring it to us from other parts of the world? Across Europe, not enough green electricity can be produced to charge vehicles, heat buildings, or heat industrial processes electrically. So we need energy imports from sunny and windy areas around the world. And we can’t get that energy here with the cable. So only hydrogen or derivatives like NH3 work. It comes from North Africa either by pipeline or from South America by ship. And then the H2 arriving by ship is best packed into the existing pipeline networks, 90% of which can be converted to H2. Then you can heat with it (conv. Therme or Bz heater), refuel cars, produce steel, etc.. And all of this is spatially and temporally decoupled from the location and time of power generation.
    It is so naïve to think that everything can be switched to just electricity. I’m curious to see how the lines will glow when the batt.Trucks and buses have to be charged, private individuals have their cars plugged in, heat pumps roar, people surf the net, etc. And all this when an important source, the PV, is not available and the wind tends to die down in the evening. Then we not only have a performance problem, but also a power problem. And now please don’t come up with any battery storage that you can put everywhere. They don’t even come close to having the required storage capacity.
    Our car company bosses have never focused on efficiency, now it is playing at once the role. The main reason for choosing battery cars is simply that they can be produced more cheaply than Bz cars. Not even in terms of material costs, because large batteries are more material-intensive than fuel cells. No, the assembly of a Bz is similar to that of an engine with all the ancillaries, whereas the batteries are assembled in a more automated way. In the end, lower production costs mean higher profits. That’s what it’s all about. Diess and the like are acting as if the bosses at Toyota and Hyundai are stupid and don’t know about the efficiency losses. Mr. Diess should also make people think that Bz cars are playing an increasingly important role in his important market, China, because they are already familiar with the power supply problems in the big cities.

  11. In my opinion, Mr. Duesmann is distinguished by the fact that, as a car manager, he is finally sorting the PHEV technology where it belongs – on the sidelines and not, as is usually the case, as “bridging technology”.
    He has also recognized and dares to say that fuel cells cannot be used sensibly in passenger cars (m.M.n.: because of the scaling effect).
    It is to be hoped that more such far-sighted and honest managers will invigorate the future German automotive industry !!


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