It's that time of year again. The Geneva Motor Show is approaching and Nanoflowcell is showing the latest version of the Quant, its ever-developing, flow battery-powered electric sports car concept. Unlike the Quants of Nanoflowcell past, the new 750-hp Quant 48Volt sees its voltage drop precipitously, from 700 V on last year's Quant FE to the namesake 48 V. Performance doesn't drop at all, though, at least not on the latest piece of paper Nanoflowcell has issued. In fact, it only gets better: 0-62 mph (100 km/h) in 2.4 seconds, a 186-mph (300-km/h) top speed and a 620-mile (1,000-km) range.
Nanoflowcell first showed its 48 V electrical system on the more modest, everyday-driver Quantino concept, which debuted next to the 1,075-hp Quant F at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show. After running through a couple of years of Quantino testing and development, Nanoflowcell announced last month that it had readied a variably controllable flow cell, allowing it to drop the supercapacitors it had previously relied on to store energy and regulate current flow, saving both weight and money.
"It has previously not been possible to vary the control of flow cells directly, meaning they needed buffer storage, so-called supercapacitors, to be able to manage the flow of current for regulating driving speed," Nanoflowcell explained in that announcement. "However, supercapacitors are very expensive and comparatively heavy. The breakthrough with the new low-voltage flow cell drive in the Quantino 48Volt is that it will no longer require supercapacitors."
With the 2017 Quant 48Volt, Nanoflowcell packages that new 48 V technology inside the Quant supercar concept it first hit the scene with back in 2014, creating a car with more unbelievable (quite literally) numbers than ever. The Quant 48Volt has an all-wheel-drive layout of four low-voltage motors, teaming up to create 751 hp. The motors have been redesigned for this latest concept car and rely on a "solid aluminium net structure" in place of the copper windings familiar in electric motor design. Nanoflowcell says this reduces the volume, weight and cost of the motor while also making series production simpler.
As usual, the juice spinning those motors comes from the flow cell, where it's the result of the electrochemical reaction of two electrolyte solutions separated by a membrane. Nanoflowcell explains how it optimized this process in its 48 V system:
"Over two and a half years of development, the company successfully applied a specialist nano process to increase the size of the flow cell's membrane surface in a way that multiplied the reaction surface by several orders of magnitude without compromising the compactness of the cells. Another innovation is the first series connection of six flow cells, enabling more bi-ion electrolyte to be discharged in a shorter space of time, thus allowing more energy to be generated. Furthermore, this new cell design has also been configured to enable the Nanoflowcell to process a higher energy density in the bi-ion electrolyte solution (more than 600 Wh)."
The big selling point of the low-voltage electrical system is that it makes the vehicle safer, Nanoflowcell illustrating that point by mentioning that you can go ahead and touch the flow cell's poles without worrying about frying yourself. The liquids used are neither flammable or explosive, so even less worry weighing on the Quant driver's mind.
So, yep, Nanoflowcell is really kicking ass when it comes to vapor.. er.. nano tech. Or so it tells it. The company must really like the phrase "we'll believe it when we see it" because there's generally nothing else to say after seeing the outlandish claims surrounding its annual concept cars.
To its credit, Nanoflowcell did put Autocar and Top Gear behind the wheel of the Quant FE and Quantino last October, but the test drives were far from the in-depth shakedown those following the story are waiting for. Before that type of thorough review, claims like 2.4 seconds to 62 mph (one of the quickest in the world) and 620 miles of range will be greeted with healthy skepticism, if not rolling eyeballs.
Outside of a mention about OEMs having an "extremely high level of interest" in the new 48 V technology, Nanoflowcell's latest materials don't offer much in the way of when we might actually see more than a show car, prototype, or paper list of numbers and superlatives. Perhaps it'll have more news on that front in Geneva. Perhaps we'll just be snapping photos of the latest pretty Quant and forgetting all about it until the next one surfaces a year from now.
If we have to be stuck taking photos of the same slowly evolving concept car year after year, we're glad it's the Quant, which we've always considered a good-looking sports car. The Quant 48Volt appears to wear a shade of bluish-gray close to that of the original 2014 Quant E, but gets some copper-colored jewelry running down its sides. The face gets a more vertical set of slats across the intakes, along with copper-colored trim at the sides. That look is repeated at the rear, where copper outlet surrounds split up the fascia.
The interior has also been updated, with newly-colored two-tone seats visible through the open gullwing in one of the pictures Nanoflowcell released ahead of the debut. We'll have to get a closer look in Geneva to see what else is going on inside. We'll be on the floor of the show starting March 7 and intend to make our annual stop at Nanoflowcell's booth.