Nunzio La Vecchia is back, baby! And at this year's Geneva Motor Show, he's pitching an even more extraordinary, updated version of his flow cell supercar, the Nanoflowcell Quant F. La Vecchia claims that the updated car's flow battery can power the motor to a tune of 1,000 hp (746 kW) and 500 miles (805 km). We're still loath to believe all the hype, but this high-tech red sports car simply can't be ignored.
When we saw Nanoflowcell's presentation at last year's Geneva Motor Show, we weren't quite sure what to make of the start-up. But between its seemingly too-good-to-be-true claims and the flashy showman at its helm (that's La Vecchia), we were leaning toward unwavering skepticism. That hasn't really changed in the past year, and the fact that Nanoflowcell's suspect numbers have fattened up even more doesn't make us any more hopeful. Still, the Quant F is a very interesting concept car, if nothing else.
Nanoflowcell seems to have realized that "Nanoflowcell Quant e-Sportlimousine" (that's nanoFLOWCELL QUANT e-Sportlimousine, if we're being true to company copy) was about the least catchy name a groundbreaking supercar could possibly have. Now, it's calling last year's concept the "Quant E" and this year's the "Quant F". That naming structure makes sense not only in successive lettering/prototype format, but also in light of Nanoflowcell's flow cell electricity generation. A "Quant G" might run into some problems next year, though.
As you might recall from last year's Quant E, Nanoflowcell is hyping an entirely different type of vehicular energy storage technology, the likes of which are usually only seen in university research papers. The system produces electricity from two ionic fluids stored in 250-liter (66-US gal) tanks (previously 200-liter tanks).
"Instead of using hydrogen and oxygen as in a conventional fuel cell, we work with two ionic fluids – one with a positive charge and one with a negative charge," explains La Vecchia. "We are only in the initial phase of our development work. The fact that we store the energy for our drive in a fluid provides us with enormous advantages over systems employed to date in the field of electric mobility. We can use all the cavities in the vehicle to transport the ionic liquid. As the liquid is neither flammable nor toxic, we believe we are absolutely on the right track with this medium."
Nanoflowcell has been hard at work improving its powertrain design over the past 12 months. In addition to the larger liquid tanks, the design now incorporates a two-speed transmission and a new "buffer system" that can provide a brief 2,000 A output from the steady 50 A supply it receives from the flow cell. According to the company, that work results in the car performing even further off the charts than its predecessor, boasting a peak output (limited duration) of 1,075 hp (802 kW) and a maximum rated voltage of 735 V, up from 912 hp (680 kW) and 600 V, respectively.
"To our knowledge, no one has ever before put a system delivering over 2,000 amperes on the road in a passenger car," La Vecchia says. "This is unique. We achieve this by combining our flow battery with the new buffer system. This system opens up vast potential for the future of electric mobility."
Those lofty output numbers help draw attention to the Quant F, but the potential for Nanoflowcell's technology lies in clean, zero-emissions commuting. Toward that end, the company claims that the new Quant F offers a driving range of up to 500 miles (805 km), which is quite a significant boost from the 249- to 373-mile (400- to 600-km) range it was quoting last year.
"I would expressly like to point out that we researchers are not interested here in pumping up PS/kW figures, but rather in realizing what is technically feasible," La Vecchia says. "For both technical and economic reasons, the rated voltage for normal operation of the Quant F will stand at approximately 400 V in future. This enables efficient and economical driving and means correspondingly greater ranges accompanied by outstanding performance with zero harmful emissions."
Perhaps that's also why estimated top speed has plummeted from 236 mph (380 km/h) to 186 mph (300 km/h). Still, there's no hiding the fact that the Quant F is an all-out performance supercar concept, and its evolving equipment continues to reflect that fundamental fact. The new red show car gets a de-clutchable front axle that leaves the two rear motors to power the car in place of the usual four-motor AWD.
"We endeavour to provide the driver with optimum acceleration and stability in every driving situation, especially at higher speeds," explains La Vecchia. "This is easier to achieve with rear-wheel drive than with permanent 4x4 drive."
Other updated features on the new Quant F include a new carbon fiber monocoque with narrowed A pillar, an active, two-stage rear spoiler that increases downforce at speeds over 50 mph (80 km/h), and new Q-shaped "QUANTeYES" headlamps that give the car a set of eyes with pupils when turned on.
We'll have trouble believing all Nanoflowcell's claims and specs until the car has been put on the road and thoroughly vetted by third parties. However, the Quant didn't disappear silently like we thought it might. Nanoflowcell did get the technology approved for use on German public roads and the company maintains that series production is its goal.
"The exterior of the new QUANT F is already 100 percent in compliance with the requirements pertaining to series production homologation on a technical level," La Vecchia assures. "The interior is around 90 percent in compliance with homologation requirements. Homologation requirements currently still require to be met with regard to the font display, the airbags, the complex crash tests and formal tests and documentation. The crash tests are to be carried out in the USA and in Germany. Though I must say, the idea of putting such a fascinating car through a crash test really grates on me."
Gizmag will be on the ground at next month's Geneva Motor Show, and we plan to take a much closer look at the Quant F and find out any and all additional details Nanoflowcell is willing to divulge. This should include our first look at the new interior, which has increased in spaciousness thanks to the new carbon monocoque. Nanoflowcell will have a larger Geneva presence than last year and has promised it will show one "further surprise" in addition to the Quant F and Quant E. In the meantime, you can compare the first photos of the new Quant F with last year's Quant E in our gallery.