Hydrogen hypercar rocks 1,000 horsepower, weighs less than 1,000 kg
UK startup Viritech has launched its gorgeous Pininfarina-penned Apricale hypercar at Goodwood, and dropped some impressive specifications to go with it. This hydrogen-powered monster will break both the 1,000-horsepower and 1-hp-per-kg barriers.
A weight figure under 1,000 kg (2,205 lb) makes the Apricale one of the lightest cars in the vaunted thousand-pony club, and it's an incredibly impressive demonstration of the company's core technology: lightweight "Graph-Pro" hydrogen storage tanks that are built into the structure of the carbon fiber chassis, as opposed to heavy bolt-on tanks that weigh 20 times more than the hydrogen they carry.
The Apricale carries some 5.4 kg (11.9 lb) of hydrogen at 700 bar pressure. It runs this hydrogen through a "multi-hundred kilowatt" fuel cell to produce electricity, which is either sent straight to two 400-kW (536-hp) electric motors on the front and rear axles, or siphoned off to charge up a 6-kWh high-performance battery, with the "Tri-Volt" energy management system deciding how much goes where.
The battery's there to provide short-term boost power when you need all of those thousand ponies – which Viritech seems to presume won't be all that often. So while it's accurate to say this thing can make 1,000 hp, it's also accurate to say that's for a very short time: an absolute max of 27 seconds, if my math's correct and battery performance magically doesn't drop off.
Once the battery's depleted, the car will be limited to whatever "multi-hundred killowatt" means. And honestly, you know what? I'm OK with that. I've ridden and driven some very fast vehicles in my day, and 20-something seconds of full throttle on anything with a horsepower per kilogram will be a very long 20-something seconds indeed.
Viritech promises zero-emissions motoring at speeds up to and over 200 mph (322 km/h), and says a full tank of hydrogen will take you somewhere around 350 miles (560 km) before you need to go hunting for a hydrogen station. Good luck with that, Brits – as of 2021 there were a total of 15 hydrogen stations in the entire UK, which is frankly more than I'd have expected.
That's not really the point though; only 25 of these things will be built, with deliveries planned to start in 2024. Viritech doesn't want to be a hypercar company first and foremost; this machine's really more about demonstrating the company's lightweight gas storage and hydrogen/battery hybrid energy management systems in the most vivid form possible.
As we discussed when we first became aware of Viritech, the company's really more interested in becoming a tier-one or tier-two supplier of hydrogen tech to the broader automotive, heavy transport and even aviation industries – areas where it could make a much bigger contribution to humanity than just cranking out ultra-exclusive fancypants-mobiles for people with too much money.