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Gumpert Nathalie: An Electric Super Sports Car Powered By Methanol

Two models from Chinese electric-car startup AIWAYS were displayed at the Geneva Motor Show in March: an electric SUV and a methanol-electric supercar co-developed with engineer Roland Gumpert, the man behind the Gumpert Apollo.

AIWAYS Nathalie supercar
The supercar is dubbed the 'Nathalie' and uses methanol to generate electricity, in a similar fashion to a hydrogen fuel-cell car like the Toyota Mirai. It'll have four separate electric motors and a pair of twin-speed gearboxes.

AIWAYS is claiming a power output of nearly 800bhp for the car, giving a 0-60mph time of under 2.5 seconds a top speed of more than 190mph. It should also be capable of travelling nearly 750 miles between refuelling.

Production of the Nathalie will be limited to 500 units, and although no exact price has been confirmed, it definitely won't be cheap.

‘We asked ourselves what the big difference between gasoline-powered and electric-powered vehicles is?', explains Lorenz Loew, the designer behind Nathalie. ‘Thrust is precisely the high emotion that we have seen from the very beginning but also a kind of whispering, more of gliding on the road. We conveyed this feeling of gliding through an extensive but soft geometry on the vehicle.’

How does a fuel cell work? Here’s the sciencey bit. basically, it uses two electrical conductors (the anode and the cathode) where a chemical reaction between methanol and air produces water and CO2. These reactions emit electrons into the fuel cell, providing enough energy to keep the car going and re-juicing the battery whenever the car breaks or is at low speeds.

‘[Methanol] is far superior to all other fuels to date as it can be synthesized in an environmentally neutral way. Black methanol is understood as refined fossil fuel,’ it explains on the Roland Gumpert website. ‘Green methanol, however, is synthesized. It binds the CO2 contained in the air and releases it later while providing energy. This makes green methanol a great clean and neutral energy carrier. The products of the chemical reaction are water and CO2 with a negligible percentage of nitrogen oxide.’

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