Automotive

The Viritech Apricale: Britain's own hydrogen-powered hypercar

The Viritech Apricale: Britain...
The Viritech Apricale: a hydrogen hypercar with a frame designed to incorporate high-pressure H2 storage
The Viritech Apricale: a hydrogen hypercar with a frame designed to incorporate high-pressure H2 storage
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The Viritech Apricale: a hydrogen hypercar with a frame designed to incorporate high-pressure H2 storage
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The Viritech Apricale: a hydrogen hypercar with a frame designed to incorporate high-pressure H2 storage
Viritech is also working on its Jovian heavy-haul platform
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Viritech is also working on its Jovian heavy-haul platform
The Apricale is certainly a tasty-looking machine
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The Apricale is certainly a tasty-looking machine
We see some Koenigsegg in the cabin and a little McLaren in the
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Design-wise, we see some Koenigsegg in the cabin and a little McLaren in the sides... What else do you notice?
The Jovian would also run a structural hydrogen storage system... Although in this case it does kinda look like a bunch of tanks in the chassis
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The Jovian would also run a structural hydrogen storage system... Although in this case it does kinda look like a bunch of tanks in the chassis
Viritech has some F1 types on its payroll, and fully intends this to be a highly fangable machine
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Viritech has some F1 types on its payroll, and fully intends this to be a highly fangable machine
Sorry, you have to pay extra if you want that chunk of the car back
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Sorry, you have to pay extra if you want that chunk of the car back
Normally, cars with futuristic powertrains tend to scream it through the design. Not this one; indeed, the Apricale is a refreshingly traditional-looking hypercar, if such a thing can be said to exist
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Normally, cars with futuristic powertrains tend to scream it through the design. Not this one; indeed, the Apricale is a refreshingly traditional-looking hypercar, if such a thing can be said to exist
The doors go up, so they've clearly nailed that bit
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The doors go up, so they've clearly nailed that bit
View gallery - 9 images

Suggestively-named UK company Viritech has announced that it's making an altogether different kind of male enhancement supplement than we'd have expected, in the form of a hydrogen-powered hypercar called the Apricale.

Viritech, which is moving into a new engineering facility at Horiba-MIRA in the British Midlands, plans to make hydrogen powertrains its core business, across a bunch of industries including aerospace, marine, energy, road and rail freight. The Apricale is one of three showpieces it's building in small numbers to demonstrate and draw attention to its capabilities.

It certainly looks like it'll draw some attention – although mind you, this would have to rank as one of the more conservative zero-emissions hypercar designs we've seen. In no way does it scream "HEY EVERYONE LOOK I'M A HYDROGEN CAR," and that's a refreshing change, even if it might end up being a tad anonymous parked out the front of a Monte Carlo hotel.

While not much has been released about the Apricale's powertrain, Autocar is suggesting a peak power around 1,100 hp, presumably out of a large fuel cell, buffer battery and AWD electric powertrain.

Sorry, you have to pay extra if you want that chunk of the car back
Sorry, you have to pay extra if you want that chunk of the car back

Viritech's secret sauce, which it plans to prove in the Apricale, is its structural pressure vessels. Essentially, the company says it's building a super-lightweight graphene composite monocoque frame for the car that incorporates hydrogen storage the way many battery-electric vehicles now incorporate their battery packs. The benefits: super-tidy packaging without great big cylinders to plan around, and a significant weight reduction as compared to cars with bolt-on hydrogen cylinders.

The range of the car is as yet unknown, but it's fair to expect it'll be huge compared to battery-electrics. The only other hydrogen hypercar we've seen thus far, the eye-popping Hyperion XP-1, promises more than 1,000 miles (1,600 km) on a tank. As we mused when we wrote about that one, you'll probably want long ranges as an early adopter of hydrogen; you can't charge it at home like a battery car, and there are currently just 14 hydrogen fuel stations in all of the UK.

Viritech says it's going to develop the Apricale over the next 18 months, with a limited production run of 25 cars beginning in early 2023. The company is also working on "reference designs" a family-style SUV called the Tellurio, as well as a heavy-haul truck called the Jovian. Long-haul trucking is likely a better market for the company, since batteries won't be able to handle super-long distance trucking as well as hydrogen, even if they're clearly superior right now for the vast majority of passenger car use cases.

The Jovian would also run a structural hydrogen storage system... Although in this case it does kinda look like a bunch of tanks in the chassis
The Jovian would also run a structural hydrogen storage system... Although in this case it does kinda look like a bunch of tanks in the chassis

The new engineering center's location may prove valuable here; among many OEMs and tier one suppliers at the Mira Technology Park is the new facility for Israeli company REE, which makes super-flat electric vehicle chassis and wheel modules with a dizzying range of performance, function and specification options.

REE has just signed a joint chassis design deal with Toyota's Hino trucking subsidiary, as well as partnership deals across a range of different component suppliers. If Viritech's structural hydrogen powertrain design is the real deal, it'd certainly seem like an opportunity to develop a super-flat hydrogen-powered chassis that could extend REE's extraordinarily versatile platform into markets that will need the long-range capabilities offered by hydrogen.

Viritech also says it's working on reference designs for hydrogen fueling stations, portable, modular hydrogen generators, and even a zero-emissions hydrogen-powered helicopter. Thats a particularly interesting idea, because such a thing could offer mission capabilities outside the range of what the new generation of eVTOLs can deliver: heavy lift might be possible, for example, as well as long duration missions involving a lot of hovering, which would chew through the battery-powered, small-rotor eVTOLs' energy reserves way too quickly.

The doors go up, so they've clearly nailed that bit
The doors go up, so they've clearly nailed that bit

Either way, the Apricale is a spunky looking piece of unobtanium for the ultra-rich, but the structural storage tech behind it has the chance to make some real impact over the coming years. One to watch.

Source: Viritech

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9 comments
9 comments
ChairmanLMAO
Structural storage only works if your car looks too expensive to have an accident.
Daishi
This and Hyperion XP-1 look interesting. I have high hopes for the Tesla Roadster, and even the new mid-engine Corvette Z06 and ZR1 will probably be amazing.
Worzel
This would seem a far better option than batteries that have a finite life, and wil then cost a small fortune to replace.
WB
why not get a Tesla Roadster SpaceX edition, that can drive and hover as well
SeaSong
How do they cope with hydrogen embrittlement?
Jeff7
More hydrogen madness. Let’s use nuclear power to make it.
Aermaco
The weight of fuel cells has been dropping ever since its inception and with battery and capacitor boosters the heavy lift part of a trip. That is the acceleration on the ground and the VTOL lift in the air which allows for lighter FCs and more room for H2. There is no question in the minds or those who can see the bigger picture that batteries will always be used with FCs but the FCs will dominate for certain in the future. Those who say FCs are silly are simply logically pushing their investments in batteries and following the quickest path to the road for now, but not for the future.
Derek cranage
I think hydrogen is the way forward both for transport and home heating, most domestic boilers can run on hydrogen with a small modification and the existing pipe net work can be used to distribute this. May be it would then be possible to refuel your car at home.
martinwinlow
"...super-lightweight graphene composite monocoque frame for the car that incorporates hydrogen storage..." Why, that doesn't sound at all expensive! This on the same day that this plopped into my email in-tray: https://busandtrainuser.com/2020/03/05/end-of-the-road-for-pioneering-hydrogen-buses/

The whole idea for anything other than extremely niche applications is utterly daft. See... http://planetforlife.com/h2/index.html ...for more clues as to why.