Gumpert’s 190mph EV
Former Audi Sport boss Roland Gumpert is behind a Chinese hypercar due in 2019
Ex-audi Sport boss is back
The Gumpert name is returning on a fuel-cell sports coupé that’s set to arrive in 2019. After former Audi Sport boss Roland Gumpert parted ways with the Apollo brand in 2016, his latest project has gained the backing of Chinese start-up Aiways, for whom he has now taken up the role of chief product officer.
The RG Nathalie, named after Roland’s daughter, has gone from an idea to a working pre-production prototype in 18 months – impressive, given the technology underneath.
Aiways stretches the idea of a start-up, having begun with more than £1.3 billion of starting capital in 2016 and already built a factory in China capable of producing 150,000 cars a year.
The RG Nathalie was created in tandem with Aiways’ first mass-produced car, an electric SUV called the U5 Ion. The RG Nathalie’s production ambition is more modest: around 500 will be produced , with a price target of around €400,000 (roughly £350,000).
Propulsion is by four Bosch electric motors – two on each axle for four-wheel drive – each providing 137bhp and 170lb ft. Claims for the car’s total system output appear to vary wildly, but Gumpert claims a 0-62mph time of 2.5sec and, with the use of a two-speed gearbox, a 190mph top speed.
What makes the RG Nathalie unique among the many electric hypercars due to arrive soon is its method of charging. It has a fuel cell stack, which acts as a sort of range extender, and it’s fuelled by methanol.
A high-temperature catalytic reaction enables the fuel cell to obtain hydrogen from methanol, a fuel source which is abundant, cheap (around a third of the price of petrol) and far easier and safer to store than volatile, unbound hydrogen. That means most petrol stations could easily supply the fuel. The main downsides are that conventionally produced methanol isn’t currently CO2 neutral, and the fuel cell is generally less powerful.
The fuel cell in the RG Nathalie prototype we’ve been out in (below) puts out around 5kw. For what engineers call ‘regular use’, this is fine, as the cell can top up the batteries while the car is switched off. But longer-distance use will increase the likelihood of needing to visit a charge point. The manufacturer claims about 530 miles of range at 50mph, but considerably less if you use all of the car’s performance.
Cockpit has three digital displays