Before it detailed the 1,075-hp Quant F supercar, Nanoflowcell mentioned that it would have another surprise highlight at the Geneva Motor Show. Turns out, the surprise is an entirely new concept car that it calls the Quantino. Unlike the Quant, which focuses on out-and-out performance, the small Quantino hatchback puts Nanoflowcell's flow battery to use in daily commuting-type efficiency. The company believes that the car can travel up to 620 miles (1,000 km) on a single fill-up of ionic fluids.

With a bit of hindsight, we see that Nanoflowcell founder Nunzio La Vecchia dropped some subtle foreshadowing in last week's Quant F press release.

"Please consider that we are driving a 5.25-m long sports sedan in all-electric mode over a range of 800 km," he stressed. "This is not a small car, but a large sedan for four people. A sports sedan."

In other words, just imagine what our flow cell technology could do inside a small car with a powertrain more modest than a 1,075-hp, four-motor drive. What it can do is quite impressive ... on paper.

"With the Quantino, we present the smaller brother of the Quant E and the Quant F in Geneva," La Vecchia says. "An innovative electric vehicle with mass appeal. Sporty, dynamic, and above all with a low-voltage drive system. With a rated voltage of only 48 V we achieve four times 25 kW, corresponding to around 136 hp, through a combination of Nanoflowcell, buffer system and electric motors. This set-up provides us with a top speed of over 200 kilometers an hour (124 mph) in all-electric mode and a range of over 1,000 kilometers, without any harmful emissions."

The Quantino's much, much smaller powertrain allows it to achieve that kind of claimed range with a smaller pair of 175-liter (46-US gal) tanks for its positive and negative ionic fluids (the Quant F uses 250-liter tanks). The new car's smaller size also helps in optimizing efficiency – the 2+2 hatch stretches a total of 154 in (3.91 m) in length. The 48-volt drive system, much lower than the voltages involved with the Quant, battery electric cars and fuel cell vehicles, is another integral piece of the puzzle, as Nanoflowcell explains.

"To our knowledge, a low-voltage drive system has never been deployed before in a larger passenger car, such as is now being demonstrated on board of the Quantino," states La Vecchia. "The required drive output always restricted the spectrum of useful applications for a low-voltage system. This is all changing now with the Nanoflowcell. Very high currents are required for the levels of drive output typically needed by vehicles. This necessitates exceptionally large cable cross-sections and increased transmission losses with high-voltage systems. With the Nanoflowcell we have been able to solve this problem. Here we generate very high currents at a very low rated voltage which are perfect for the purposes of the low-voltage system."

The introduction of yet another concept car with reach-for-the-moon estimates doesn't do much to boost our confidence that Nanoflowcell is ever going to actually market a real car, but the Quantino's design does reinforce the fact that the company has some interesting styling visionaries in its ranks. The car naturally doesn't look as sporty as its big brothers, but it is equally unique, featuring a contrast-black flank split straight through the fenders and a set of oversized 22-in wheels, the same wheels driving the much larger Quant F. It also shares the larger Quant's dropping roofline, though the Quantino's roof ends much more abruptly in a rounded hatch. The black-out A pillars carry over from the Quant, as does the generous use of metallic-look trim.

The front and rear ends of the Quantino are derived from the Quant E and F, and it looks like the small car's face may feature the same type of cavernous intakes. We'll have to wait until we have something more than a cropped teaser and profile shot to see just how much resemblance there is in the face and backside.

Nanoflowcell says that it plans to put a Quantino on the road (for testing purposes) later this year. Whether or not it succeeds, it's good to see the company thinking about a more widespread application for its technology, an application it bills as an affordable electric vehicle "for everyone." We're still not placing any bets on seeing any of these cars on the market in the near future, but we like the progression of its design.

You know it's going to be a good auto show when a startup with big dreams is showing not just one, but two, concept cars. We've booked our airfare and will be heading to the Geneva Motor Show press days to take a look at both Nanoflowcell concepts and the slew of other high-performance, high-tech automobiles set to make their debuts. The show gets underway on March 3.

View gallery - 2 images