There’s no shortage of electric supercars and sports cars from small automakers on the horizon. How many of them will actually make it to market is another story. But one that caught our eye is Gumpert Aiways’s Nathalie. It has an electric powertrain, but instead of putting a large battery pack underneath the passenger cabin or using hydrogen fuel cells, the Nathalie runs on methanol.
CEO Roland Gumpert (who, in his previous work at Audi, helped come up with the automaker’s Quattro system) wanted a vehicle with all the power and torque afforded by an electric powertrain without making drivers deal with the delays of charging or having to find somewhere to plug in their car.
The Nathalie uses the methanol fuel cell to produce hydrogen and convert that into electricity. The vehicle still has a battery, but it acts as a buffer between the methanol fuel cell and the four motors. That way if the driver wants more power to the wheels than the fuel cell can immediately provide, the battery pack sends the electricity needed. While driving through the city or on cruising over long distances, the battery doesn’t need to be used, according to Gumpert Aiways.
The result of this dual source of electricity for the motors is a vehicle with 536 horsepower that, the company claims, can do zero to 62 mph in 2.5 seconds. As you would expect for a product from a veteran of the Quattro’s development, it is an all-wheel drive vehicle, and each wheel is blessed with its own motor.
According to the automaker, the Nathalie has a range of 510 miles, can reach a top speed of 184 miles per hour, and can refuel in three minutes. That’s if you have access to a methanol refueling station—which is a big “if.” While charging does take longer than refueling and the hydrogen infrastructure isn’t as large as some automakers would like, methanol isn’t as easy to come by as gasoline, to say the least.
The automaker’s solution is build a network of methanol gas stations in cities where the car is sold. It initially intends to sell the Nathalie in Germany, Switzerland, Poland, Scandinavia, and Belgium/Luxembourg/Netherlands. Swiss buyers are in luck; there are already stations being built.
As for anyone living outside a metropolitan area, Gumpert will have an overnight delivery service. All of these solutions are free for the first year of ownership.
By: Roberto Baldwin, March 12, 2020