Automotive

Gumpert unleashes world-first methanol fuel cell electric supercar

Gumpert unleashes world-first ...
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Gumpert Aiways' Nathalie relies on a 536-hp four-motor electric drive with methanol fuel cell and buffer battery
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Gumpert Aiways' Nathalie relies on a 536-hp four-motor electric drive with methanol fuel cell and buffer battery
Gumpert showed a Nathalie prototype at last year's Geneva Motor Show and revealed the 1st Edition a year later
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Gumpert showed a Nathalie prototype at last year's Geneva Motor Show and revealed the 1st Edition a year later
Gumpert Aiways estimates a 2.5-second 0-62 mph time
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Gumpert Aiways estimates a 2.5-second 0-62 mph time
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The Nathalie weighs roughly 3,970 lb (1,800 kg)
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The Nathalie weighs roughly 3,970 lb (1,800 kg)
Gumpert plans to build 500 Nathalie models worldwide
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Gumpert plans to build 500 Nathalie models worldwide
Gumpert Aiways Nathalie
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Gumpert Aiways Nathalie
Nathalie 1st Edition models will begin rolling out in mid 2021
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Nathalie 1st Edition models will begin rolling out in mid 2021
The methanol fuel cell behind the Nathalie supercar
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The methanol fuel cell behind the Nathalie supercar
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A year after showing off a purple haze of a concept car at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show, Gumpert Aiways has launched the first edition of its production Nathalie supercar. Instead of a run-of-the-mill electric or plug-in hybrid drive, the Nathalie relies on electric motors backed by a methanol fuel cell. This combo delivers a driving range of over 500 miles (805 km), refuel times of three minutes, and performance figures that include a 2.5-second 0-62 mph (100 km/h) sprint.

A major bone of contention we had with the original Nathalie concept was the question of how a 5-kW methanol fuel cell would effectively power a 600-kW electric drive. In the journey from concept to production car, Gumpert has addressed that issue in part by compressing that huge spread from both ends.

The methanol fuel cell under the hood now supplies 15 kW of continuous power to a 400-kW (536-hp) electric drive. A buffer battery sits in between the two, supplying any extra juice needed for faster, livelier driving. The fuel cell charges the battery during low-demand situations like city driving and recuperative braking kicks in extra charging to help ensure there's battery power when needed.

The methanol fuel cell behind the Nathalie supercar
The methanol fuel cell behind the Nathalie supercar

As for those 536 horses of drive power, Gumpert distributes them evenly by dropping an electric motor at each wheel. The 4WD car can sprint from 0 to 62 mph in 2.5-seconds on its way to a 186-mph (300-km/h) top speed. That top speed requires full system power, and when the battery runs dry, the car's 75-mph (120 km/h) top speed will still feel plenty comfortable on the highway. It can drive up to 510 miles (820 km) at that 75-mph cruising speed, and filling up the 65-liter methanol tank takes a mere three minutes.

"It was my vision of an electric car that does not stop when the battery is empty that paved the way for this innovation," says Roland Gumpert, Gumpert Aiways CEO. "Today, one year later, we’re able to present to you the world’s first production car with a methanol fuel cell, which does not rely on charging stations or designated hydrogen stations."

The Nathalie weighs roughly 3,970 lb (1,800 kg)
The Nathalie weighs roughly 3,970 lb (1,800 kg)

What the Nathalie does rely on is a methanol refill that won't necessarily be much easier to source than hydrogen. Gumpert plans to skirt this issue with an "overnight delivery service" in launch markets like Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and by supporting development of a supply chain in North America and the Middle East. It won't be creating any huge surge on the demand side, either, ensuring only a few people will ever have to fuel up a Nathalie by launching it as a strictly limited edition that costs over €400,000. And anyone with those kinds of means can probably figure out the methanol issue themselves.

Design-wise, the First Edition looks like something of a more subdued version of last year's purple-suited lost-at-birth Nissan GT-R sibling, but there are some notable changes. The skin atop the chromoly tube chassis is no longer simple carbon but a composite that utilizes 50 percent flax content to remain lightweight while adding an extra eco buzzword to the spec sheet. The simple doors have been replaced with scissor doors for extra flair when accessing the two-seat race-inspired cockpit (of which Gumpert Aiways provides no pictures).

Nathalie 1st Edition models will begin rolling out in mid 2021
Nathalie 1st Edition models will begin rolling out in mid 2021

The Nathalie First Edition is available for reservation now, and deliveries will begin in the second half of 2021. Base price is €407,500 (approx. US$444,775). Gumpert Aiways plans to build no more than 500 Nathalie models in all.

Source: Gumpert Aiways

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5 comments
Douglas Rogers
Flax is a big money saver over carbon. It is the base of Micarta, which was used on control surfaces of some B-25's. It tended to warp with changing humidity as in going from England to Africa.
Kpar
A good reason to support rich people- the expensive toys they buy now will filter down to the rest of us as the tech improves. Fuel cells for high power have been hampered by a number of things, but this shows significant promise.
Martin Hone
Can't see gas stations stocking methanol even though readily available from gas companies. But why methanol when ethanol could be substituted easily ?
michael_dowling
Methanol powered fuel cells would solve the problem of handling/storing of H2,but unfortunately, the waste products include CO2: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Direct_methanol_fuel_cell
GeoffreyR.Gunning
Why bother with methanol fueled fuel cells? The efficient is only around 10% and the by-product is carbon dioxide - the very thing we are trying to avoid. We knew this decades ago.