Audi Doubts Electric Vehicles, Reignites Hydrogen Cell Program

Audi chairman Bram Schot announced publicly that the company will ramp up their hydrogen fuel cell program. Audi has doubts about resource availability for battery production and the marked increase in customer expectations when it comes to electric cars.

These doubts led the car maker to re-open the h-tron program and will place hydrogen fuel cell technology as the keystone of the Volkswagen Group.

Audi confirmed a new 6th gen hydrogen fuel cell vehicle prototype will be available for public display sometime this year. They also said that a small number of such production vehicles could be part of a lease program as early as 2021. At the moment these vehicles would come from the Neckarsulm, Germany plant where the A6, A7 and A8 are currently produced.

This new fuel cell tech was born from a cross-license agreement with Hyundai. This car maker already sells the FCEV called Nexo SUV.

Considering the Q8, would an Audi Q9 challenge Ranger Rover’s King-of-the-Hill Status?

When Audi launched their Q8 luxury SUV in Shenzhen, China there was one, big unanswered question—would there be an even larger, more luxurious model, a Q9? There is no detailed answer to the question at this time, but the Q8 is tops when it comes to luxury SUVs.

It will cost potential owners just around 65k pounds at its launch later in the summer in the UK, although it is anticipated that some packages will top out around 100k pounds  as higher-tech, sportier and more luxurious upgrades are tacked on by high-end buyers. It has also been publicly confirmed that a plug-in hybrid Q8 and a Q8-RS high performance version will join the lineup.

Audi thinks there is room in the market to challenge SUV masterminds Range Rover, who currently rule without challenge in the 80k-120k pound sector of high end SUV sales. A Q9 focusing on technology, luxury and status could help Audi take over some the Ranger Rovers unchallenged market space. If such a Q9 were produced it might would be to the Range Rover as the Q8 is to the Range Rover Sport.

Although Audi is set firmly on releasing an even higher end SUV in the Q9, they’ve currently not said anything about trying their hand at the entry-level market with a vehicle smaller than the Q2.

Audi A6 Gets Upgrades

Audi’s new A6 will get a “mild-hybrid technology” upgrade–the upgrades will be significant compared to the old model and will be revealed in Geneva.

Audi said the A6 will be available with the same autonomous driving capability on the A8 sedan and A7 fastback. The sensors bring more active safety functions. No hands-free driving from Audi until legislation changes though.

One feature gets the new model to closer to self-driving, an auto park feature.  On the new A6 is the ability to command the car to self-park via a button on the myAudi smartphone app. The car will follow the command only after everyone has exited the vehicle.

The car will feature two 3.0-liter V-6 engines. These will come in either gasoline or diesel, both fitted with mild-hybrid technology that delivers electric power via a 48-volt belt-driven start-alternator. The lithium ion battery collects energy that would be wasted in braking and helps the car under acceleration which ultimately reduces fuel usage.

More on Driverless Cars

Think of some of the benefits of moving toward driverless cars. The technology is already here. Here are some of the benefits that the Victor crew found:

People with disablilities will have an easier time
Traffic accidents will probably decline significantly
Traffic will move more efficiently thus lowering fuel emissions
Road rage could be a thing of the past
Rarely will someone get pulled over for DUI, while they could incorporate something that Will prevent someone who couldn’t take over from driving
Car insurance may not be necessary
We could become more productive by not having to worry about traffic and use the Commuting time to prepare for daily routines (work, school, etc)
pedestrians may find it safer to cross the roads


Cities that rely on parking tickets and moving violations will have to find income elsewhere

There may be other things that can be a downside but we won’t know until we get there.

Delphi, a car component supplier will conduct a 3,500 mile cross-country trip from San Francisco to New York to test self-driving car technology. It will collect data as it starts March 22 in a modified Audi crossover SUV equipped with cameras, radar, and software. It hopes to arrive by April 4 in time for the New York International Auto Show. There will also be drivers to take over the wheel when they reach states that do not allow autonomous driving.

Joe Victor

Audi Developing Energy Generating Suspension

Think of all the things that cause loss of energy in a vehicle: mechanical friction, braking, aerodynamic drag, etc. As Audi enters the electric and hybrid market with the release of their first-ever plug-in hybrid, the A3 e-tron and their development of their so-called all-electric super car, the R8 e-tron, Audi seem almost obsessive on their “search and destroy” mission when it comes to energy drains. With this set of lenses Audi has turned it’s eyes to suspension.

Strangely enough, yes, suspension—Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Audi R&D chief, discussed the companies work on their “generator suspension that will hopefully make it into future productions.”

“What people don’t realize is that dampers get very hot,” he said. “When working hard over a bumpy road, the dampers are perhaps 100 to 125 degrees. This energy is wasted as heat into the atmosphere. So, we will replace the suspension with a generator.”

Audi is looking into the possibility of using a rotating generator inside each damper that could be spun during compression and rebound. Then, captured electrical energy could be directed to batteries for storage. This energy could provide power for an electric or hybrid’s drive system or electrical accessories. Bumps in the road could power your radio! Dr. Hackenberg even offered some ideas on how such a energy recycling suspension system to could benefit performance cars:

“Because we can send energy back into the damper, you will have an independently variable suspension. This can [mitigate body] roll.”

More Info:

Joe Victor

New Diesel Cars for 2014

The Victor crew
found that has a list of new 2014 Diesel cars for better fuel efficiency. Here they are:

Audi – 3.0 liter V-6 turbodiesels:
Audi A6 TDI mid-size sedan – for 29 mpg starts at $57,500
Audi A7 4-door coupe – 29 mpg starts at $66,900
Audi A8 large luxury sedan – 28 mpg starts at $82,500

BMW – 180 hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel
3-series sport sedan – 32 mpg city; 45 mpg highway; slightly lower with xDrive all-wheel drive option; starts at $39,525 without xDrive; another $2000 with
3-series Sports Wagon – up to 43 mpg; only comes with xDrive; starts at $43,875

Chevrolet – 151 hp 2.0-liter turbodiesel four cylinder:
Cruze Diesel – starts at $25,695; 27 pmg city; 46 mpg highway

Jeep – 240 hp 3.0 liter V-6 turbodiesel
Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel – 21 mpg city; 28 mpg highway;

Ram (formerly Dodge Truck) – 240 hp 3.0 liter V-6 turbodiesel
1500 EcoDiesel pickup truck – priced $2,850 higher than Ram 1500 gasoline

Ride on.
~Joe Victor

Joe asks Jody Victor®: Best Cars for Summer Sports

For every sport or outdoor adventure, there’s a perfect vehicle for ferrying your gear and getting you where you need to go, be it your favorite surf break, a new backpacking route or the ideal stretch of pavement for pedaling your road bike. But a kite surfer has different transportation criteria than a mountain biker, and a fisherman’s needs are not the same as those of an all-terrain-vehicle enthusiast. I asked Jody Victor  to tell us more about it from and article by Claire Martin of MSN Autos and

Jody Victor: Sometimes you need all-wheel drive; other times, all you care about is whether your cooler will fit in the trunk. Here are the best cars for various outdoor sports, factoring in cargo capacity, hauling capability, horsepower, maneuverability and, of course, aesthetics, in 2 parts.

Surfing | Jeep Wrangler

The main benefit to the Wrangler is that your surfboard — long, short or anywhere in between — can fit in the vehicle when the top is off. If it hangs out a little bit, you’ll look all the more cool. When scoping out remote surf spots, the high ground clearance and 4-wheel drive come in handy. To keep valuables out of sight while you’re in the waves, the “add a trunk” feature creates a 3-cubic-foot mini trunk in the rear of the vehicle.

Mountain Biking | Honda Element

With enough space to fit three bikes and one rear-seat passenger, or two bikes and two friends in the back, the Element is ideal for mountain-bike outings. No need to hoist anything onto the roof of the car or to deal with a clunky rear-mounted bike rack. And you won’t have to remove your bikes’ front tires to fit them in, either. The vehicle’s all-wheel-drive capability helps get you to the trail. After your excursion, any dirt that collects on the Element’s urethane-coated floor is easy to sweep out.

Kite Surfing | Volvo XC70

This wagon’s minivan-size storage capacity lets you easily pack the bulky gear that kite surfing requires — boards, kites, harnesses and the like. But it’s also agile enough that you can negotiate winding coastal roads with power and ease. The XC70 is the longest of the Volvo models, making it easier to carry your quiver of boards inside the car without anything hanging out a window. Extra ground clearance and all-wheel drive keep you from getting stuck in any sand traps en route to the wind-whipped water. The optional plastic trunk liner keeps your wet gear from stinking up the car.

Road Cycling | Audi A3

If you’re a road cyclist, chances are you spend a lot of time on pavement that’s as fun to drive as it is to pedal, so you’ll want a car that handles well on twisting, curvy roads. The Audi A3 is turbocharged whether you buy the gasoline version or the diesel, and it has speed-sensitive power steering — helpful in hairpin turns. Roof rails make for easy installation of a bike rack, but because the A3 is a wagon, you could store your ride inside. Flip one seat down for one bike, or both to store two.

Backpacking | Ford Flex

To accommodate the bulky backpacks, tents and sleeping pads required for a backpacking trip, the Ford Flex has 83 cubic feet of cargo space with the seats down. If you’re taking a day hike, sans gear, the Flex is perfect for ferrying a group of friends to the trailhead; its three rows of seats accommodate seven passengers. Four skylights on the roof let you take in the beauty of your wilderness surroundings before you even get out of the car. Opt for bucket seats in the second row and you can also get a refrigerated console to keep your water supply cold.

Thanks, Jody! More next time.

Joe Victor

Joe asks Jody Victor®: 10 Best Resale Value Cars, 2012

An important measure of a vehicle’s value — and appeal — is what it’s expected to be worth three and five years down the road. These figures are the estimated price a dealer would pay if you traded in the vehicle, expressed as a percentage of the original sticker price. I asked Jody Victor to tell us more about it from an article by Jessica Anderson of Kiplinger for

Jody Victor: To win best-resale plaudits, the model must first be selected as one of the top 25 vehicles in its category. Then they pick the vehicle with the highest three-year resale value. No model is eligible for the award if another trim level of the same model has won Best Resale in a lower-price category. Here’s the first five vehicles from


Sticker price: $19,095
Invoice price: $17,903
TrueCar national average price: $18,375
3-year resale value: 63%, 5-year: 45%
City mpg: 26, Hwy: 36

Part of what clinched the Best New Car award in its class for the Focus was its stellar resale values. Good looks, plenty of standard equipment and tons of cargo space in the hatchback don’t hurt either.


Sticker price: $22,450
Invoice price: $20,275
TrueCar national average price: $22,332
3-year resale value: 69%, 5-year: 53%
City mpg: 27, Hwy: 35

With a short-SUV-style body reminiscent of a Scion xB or Kia Soul, but with the Mini’s characteristically rounded features, the Countryman’s introduction last year has helped reinvigorate the brand. The biggest Mini also has the highest resale value of any vehicle in our rankings this year — worth a stunning 69% of the original price after three years.

CARS $25,000-$30,000: MINI COOPER COUPE S

Sticker price: $25,300
Invoice price: $22,840
TrueCar national average price: $25,217
3-year resale value: 68%, 5-year: 53%
City mpg: 27, Hwy: 35

New for 2012, the Mini Coupe (not to be confused with the long-standing Hardtop model) boasts a turbocharged 1.6-liter engine that gets 35 miles per gallon on the highway and among the highest resale values of any vehicle (sliding in just below its sibling, the Mini Countryman).

CARS $30,000-$40,000: BMW 128I COUPE

Sticker price: $31,925
Invoice price: $29,440
TrueCar national average price: $30,782
3-year resale value: 63%, 5-year: 43%
City mpg: 18, Hwy: 28

Although it’s one of the littlest Bimmers, the 1-series is no slouch — in value or on the road. Its 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder engine produces 230 horsepower and manages nearly 30 mpg on the highway.


Sticker price: $63,745
Invoice price: $59,344
TrueCar national average price: $61,806
3-year resale value: 60%, 5-year: 44%
City mpg: 18, Hwy: 28

New for 2012, Audi’s A7 shares basic architecture, powertrain and interior styling with the A6, but the A7’s hatchback styling has more cargo space — 25 cubic feet — and higher resale values. It rates a Worth a Look nod from Kiplinger’s.

Thanks, Jody! More next time!

Joe Victor

Joe asks Jody Victor®:12 Cars We Can’t Wait to Drive

The annual North American International Auto Show in Detroit can induce serious sensory overload. For a true car nut, it’s like being a kid in a candy store – drooling over all that tasty sheet metal. I asked Jody Victor  to tell us about 12 of them (in 3 instalments) from an article by Kirk Bell of MSN Autos, and

Jody Victor: Hey Joe, can’t wait to see and drive some of these fantastic vehicles. Here’s the first batch.

Acura NSX Concept – The original NSX was the everyman’s supercar. The car, sold in the U.S. from 1990 to 2005, wasn’t overly powerful, but handled like it was on rails thanks to a low curb weight, ideal weight balance and a low center of gravity. The all-new NSX, which is due out within the next three years, will rely on technology to achieve the same — or, hopefully, better — results in the twisties. The concept’s midmounted V6 engine is connected to a dual-clutch automatic transmission with a built-in electric motor that sends power to the rear wheels. An additional pair of electric motors sits at the front axle to provide all-wheel drive. This new setup can shuttle torque from left to right just like in Acuras equipped with current SH-AWD, although in the NSX it’s done electrically.

2013 Audi S4 – The Audi S4 doesn’t get an appreciably new look for the 2013 model year, but it does retain the traits that have made it one of our favorite sport sedans. It’s still well-balanced, and handling is still aided by lightweight aluminum suspension components and the Audi drive select system, which includes adjustable shock absorbers. The 333-horsepower 3.0-liter supercharged V6 engine offers plenty of willing power and decent fuel economy. Our only concern is the new electric-assist steering. Let’s hope it has as much road feel as, or more than, the outgoing hydraulic system.

2013 Cadillac ATS – When an automaker is serious about developing a car with world-class handling, it sends a group of engineers to test that vehicle on Germany’s famed Nurburgring road circuit. Cadillac did just that with the 2013 ATS compact sedan. Designed to compete with the BMW 3-Series, the ATS has true sport sedan credentials: low mass (it will be the lightest car in the class), extensive use of high-strength steel, rear- or all-wheel drive, Magnetic Ride Control suspension and Brembo brakes. We are looking forward to both the turbocharged 2.0-liter 270-horsepower four-cylinder and the 3.6-liter 318-horsepower V6 engines.

2013 Chevrolet Sonic RS – The Chevrolet Sonic was one of the pleasant surprises of 2011. Its solid structure gives the car a dynamic character unmatched in its segment. The 1.4-liter turbocharged engine, while a bit underpowered in the Chevy Cruze, is right at home in the lighter Sonic. The RS is a sportier version of the likable subcompact. With a lower stance and stiffer suspension, the RS will be even more agile than the base car. Revised gearing should make it slightly quicker, and some exterior modifications make it look a little meaner. We’ll go so far as to say the Sonic RS could be the poor man’s GTI.

Thanks, Jody! More next time!

Joe Victor