The need for electrified speed
In a world that is moving towards functional and efficient mobility systems and solutions, a group of manufacturers are determined to keep the excitement in vehicles of the future. The 2020 Geneva Motor Show was set to provide the backdrop for the introduction of a trio of alternative-powered hypercars—vehicles that might be niche and sold in small numbers, but that were also very much in demand.
The Gumpert Nathalie fuel-cell vehicle was developed because the founder of Gumpert Aiways, Roland Gumpert, believes electric cars are—in many situations—“shit.” His biggest issues are—like a lot of people—driving range and the time it takes to recharge.
“They are good for driving around town, or going to the shops, but a lot of drivers need more freedom than they offer,” he said, partly justifying his original claim. “If I get a call and need to travel from Munich to Hamburg—which is around 500 mi (805 km)—without stopping, I can’t do it in an electric car.”
His chosen energy source for power, then, is methanol.
“Hydrogen is a potential solution, but it has a lots of disadvantages, so we decided on methanol,” Gumpert said. “The reaction between methanol and oxygen within the fuel cell produces carbon dioxide and water which releases energy in the form of electrons to produce electricity. It’s like a normal hydrogen car without the disadvantages.”
The end result is a vehicle that produces performance figures of 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 2.5 s and a 184-mph (296-km/h) top speed. The Nathalie’s maximum range goes beyond Gumpert’s quoted 800 km—it’s actually 820 km (510 mi), while the time taken to refuel is 3 min.
The longer-term goal is to broaden the range of Gumpert vehicles. Everything is possible, from small city cars to larger SUVs, says the founder, while the technology will also be used by parent company Aiways on up to eight different models.
Another alternative-powered hypercar, which was physically unveiled in Geneva (albeit in front of an empty hall), is the Czinger 21C. The Los Angeles-based startup has designed and developed, from scratch, a hybrid performance vehicle that adopts an unconventional V8 plus electric motor powertrain. This combination provides output of 1250 hp, a zero to 62 mph time of 1.9 s, and a claimed top speed of 268 mph (431 km/h).
The V8 is a 2.88-L flat-crank block, with twin-turbos located in the middle of the vehicle. That engine is mated to two electric motors—one housed on each of the front wheels to provide the rapid performance figures—which produce a total of 370 N·m (273 lb·ft) and 150 kW.
Czinger has used various material and engineering advances to ensure that the 1200-kg (2645-lb) 21C met its performance targets. The company developed specific thermal-management solutions to control the power levels in the engine compartment, including thermal syphons to control the turbos and headers. These syphons pull the cool air from below the engine and push out hot air from the car’s shell.
High performance alloys and carbon fiber are just two of the non-standard materials used on the two-seater—laid out in a tandem formation. The 2-kW·h battery pack uses lithium titanate batteries and is designed to charge and discharge much faster than those available on current production electric vehicles.
The production run is limited to 80 units, but there are further plans from the company to expand the vehicle line-up to include a number of “path-breaking performance vehicles,” according to CEO Kevin Czinger.
The third in a non-ICE hypercar trio is the Rimac Automobili C_Two powered by four in-wheel motors that put out 1914 hp (1427 kW) and 2300 N·m (1696 lb·ft). Coupled with a 120-kW·h battery, this powertrain enables to the two-seat, carbon fiber-clad sportscar to reach 60 mph (97 km/h) from rest in 1.85 s and boast a top speed in excess of 250 mph (402 km/h). In addition, it offers a driving range of 550 km (342 mi) on the WLTP (Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedure) cycle, while the battery can be charged to 80% in half an hour using a fast charger.
Croatian company Rimac, headed by Mate Rimac, manufactures battery packs for a range of other supercars including the Koenigsegg Regera and Pininfarina Battista. These—as well as the ones for its own C_Two—are different.
“It’s always a compromise between performance, cost, lifetime, safety, and longevity, and all of them have to be taken into consideration when designing a battery pack,” said Rimac. “What we try to achieve is a solution that has energy density and power density matched for the product so we don’t have something that doesn’t add value in the end.”
The C_Two’s carbon-fiber monocoque is the largest in the industry and, together with the roof, weighs in at 200 kg (440 lb). It has a bonded carbon roof, structural reinforcements and crumple-zones for front, rear and side-impacts, while front and rear aluminum crash structures also feature.