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The electric supercar that features a methanol boost

04/04/2019
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There’s no shortage of electric sports cars to choose from, but the new 800hp Nathalie from Roland Gumpert stands out from the crowd thanks to one key feature- a methanol fuel cell.
The futuristic looks of the Roland Gumpert Nathalie are matched by the futuristic fuel cell technology within.
(The futuristic looks of the Roland Gumpert Nathalie are matched by the futuristic fuel cell technology within. Image via Roland Gumpert).

Aimed at solving the perennial problems facing EV drivers- those being limited electric range and slow charging; the Nathalie’s on-board methanol fuel cell charges the car’s battery during driving. It doesn’t burn the methanol however. The cell uses a simple chemical reaction to combine methanol and air to produce carbon dioxide, water and enough energy to effectively provide a consistent 5kW of charging power to the battery. Gumpert claims that the combination of battery and fuel cell will provide a 530-mile range at a cruising speed of 50mph.
Roland Gumpert's past association with Audi is evident in the Nathalie's styling cues.
(Roland Gumpert’s past association with Audi is evident in the Nathalie’s styling cues. Image via Roland Gumpert).

Aside from the innovative fuel cell, the Nathalie has some very impressive features including an electric motor at each wheel, a top power spec of 600kW (800 hp), and a top speed in excess of 190 mph (306 km/h). It’s also got a chrome-moly tube frame, a carbon chassis, and plenty of aerodynamic bodywork features to maximise downforce.
Described as a '100% driver's car' the Nathalie still features some luxury touches.
(Described as a ‘100% driver’s car’ the Nathalie still features some luxury touches. Image via Roland Gumpert).

Could the Nathalie usher in a methanol fuel age?


It sounds like a great solution doesn’t it? Simply add a methanol fuel cell and you can extend the range of your EV! 

Unfortunately, it’s not quite so simple.
To our eyes the Nathalie combines the best aesthetics of German, Italian and Japanese performance cars.
(To our eyes the Nathalie combines the best aesthetics of German, Italian and Japanese performance cars. Image via Roland Gumpert).

For starters, where do you source the methanol? It’s not as easy as pulling into your nearest gas station as most do not have a handy methanol pump. For methanol fuel cells to be viable, you’d need an accompanying infrastructure to supply methanol wherever you happen to be.

Secondly, the charge provided by the methanol fuel cell is rather meagre. With the Nathalie capable of a power output of 600 kilowatts, the 5-kilowatt charge rate from the fuel cell is unlikely to make much difference to the overall charge of the car’s battery. Roland Gumpert however insist that the methanol fuel cell will provide ‘enough energy to provide the car with its base energy while it is being driven’.
A built-in roll cage hints at the performance potential of the Nathalie.
(A built-in roll cage hints at the performance potential of the Nathalie. Image via Roland Gumpert).

Thirdly, a by-product of the methanol fuel cell is CO2- which kinda defeats the purpose of having an EV in the first place! 

Nevertheless, the Roland Gumpert Nathalie is an incredible looking car, with impressive performance to match its looks. We’re not sure it’ll usher in a new era of methanol-fuelled mobility, but it’ll certainly usher in a new era of performance – the acceleration from 0-100 km/h is around 2 seconds!
'One particular challenge was designing an electric super sports car without classic, iconic elements such as tailpipes,' says Lorenz Loew, designer of the Nathalie.
(‘One particular challenge was designing an electric super sports car without classic, iconic elements such as tailpipes’, says Lorenz Loew, designer of the Nathalie. Image via Roland Gumpert).

With the development of the car well underway, the next step for Roland Gumpert is to complete with the Nathalie in the FIA-approved EPCS race series.

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Tags: Automotive
Recent Comments
Simple, one word comment: NUTS.
ANDRE GURSES, 10 April 2019
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The electric supercar that features a methanol boost - Time to read 3 min
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