The electric vehicle prototypes revealed by nanoFlowcell in recent years have been somewhat controversial, with some questioning whether or not flow-cell batteries are even suitable for use in vehicles.
Some have also questioned whether the prototypes (revealed at various auto shows) were even functional. It appears that they are, as reporters from the UK-based automotive magazine Autocar were recently given the chance to drive the “Quantino” and the “Quant FE.”
As some background, flow cells utilize paired tanks filled with positively and negatively charged liquid electrolytes. The reactivity of these electrolytes is used to generate electricity.
Green Car Reports provides more: “In a session at the TCS test track near Zurich, Switzerland, British car magazine Autocar was able to verify that Nano Flowcell’s pair of prototypes are real, drivable cars, although that was about it. Nano Flowcell has thus far built and shown two cars to demonstrate its technology: the Quant FE sedan and the smaller Quantino coupe. Both are certified for testing on public roads in Germany, and are described as ‘beautifully built.'”
I’m sure many people would agree that these vehicles have superb aesthetics.
Autocar itself writes:
“The Quant FE is a four-seat, supercar-shaped machine with an electric motor at each wheel, producing a total of 2140lb ft of torque. This is needed to pull its hefty weight, totalling 2300kg if the two 250-litre tanks are full of the ‘bi-ION’ electrolytes.
“However, the smaller, 2+2 Quantino is a much more significant car. As driven by Autocar (below) with two 159-litre tanks, good for a claimed range of more than 600 miles, it weighs 1420kg. A possible production version would have two 85-litre tanks and weigh 1045kg, filled. Its single Bosch motor, driving the rear wheels, runs on just 48V rather than the usual hundreds of volts in an electric car.”
It’s worth noting that the car uses a pair of 42-gallon tanks as backup, thus providing more than 600 miles of range. In other words, this is a plug-in hybrid rather than a fully electric car. The planned production version will rely on much smaller 22.4-gallon tanks, which take up much less space.
So, what did Autocar think of the cars once it drove them? Here’s the three-paragraph summary:
“The FE features pillarless flanks, gullwing doors and touch-sensitive, capacitive switches under its wood veneer. It accelerates like a Tesla Model S on heavy stimulants, a head-long rush towards a claimed 186mph top speed, its four motors whining and shrieking with dissonance as their speeds vary through corners.
“The Quantino is calmer but still rapid, with 106bhp, 148lb ft, 124mph all out and a claimed sub-5.0sec 0-62mph time. Much of its running gear and plenty of interior fittings come from a BMW 2 Series for ease of homologation, but this prototype currently contains large tanks that have forced the flowcell to sit where the rear seats should be.
“It drives as a compact electric car should: wieldier than the FE, effortlessly torquey and with regenerative braking that’s not too obtrusive as it recharges the large ultracapacitor that provides the instant accelerator response.”
While the approach is interesting, flow-cell vehicles face a similar hurdle to hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicles — refueling of flow-cell batteries would require widespread availability of electrolyte refilling stations. nanoFlowcell claims that such stations would be more convenient than recharging conventional battery-electric vehicles. Maybe… but who is going to pay for the building of a large network of such stations? Additionally, the advantage of battery-electric vehicles is that you can recharge them pretty much anywhere that has a plug, including at your home.
Interestingly, the company claims that a “large manufacturer that is not German” has expressed some interest in the Quantino, and may put it into production. I’m not sure how seriously to take that claim, though. Who would it be? Honda? Toyota?
All images via nanoFLowcell
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