The high-performance EV with fuel cells has a massive pack, but not as big as we thought.
If you read our article on the Roland Gumpert Nathalie, you’ll remember we had some things to check on. The most important one was related to the “buffer battery,” the manufacturer said this car would have. It would be as big as 178 kWh, something no vehicle currently for sale offers. RG told us that was wrong, obviously: the Nathalie will have 190 kWh, but not the way you think.
Gallery: RG Nathalie Can Power Its Electric Motors With Renewable Fuel
Truth is the buffer battery is not small, but it is also not that big. The Nathalie will have a 60 kWh battery pack. The other 130 kWh come from the 65 liters of methanol its fuel tank can hold. Chemistry specialists will say we are wrong, but they should read until the end.
What happens is that each liter of methanol has around 4.5 kWh of energy. That would amount to 292.5 kWh solely with the renewable fuel the Nathalie can carry, but the reformer and the fuel cells that use the hydrogen contained in this methanol have a 45 percent efficiency. In other words, it can use only 2 kWh per liter of methanol, which leads us to the 130 kW we mentioned before.
This and the energy the battery pack can store are what give the Nathalie a range of 820 km (510 mi). The hard part will be finding pumps that sell methanol, a kind of alcohol that is toxic to human beings.
In that sense, ethanol would be a much better choice since it is easier to find. The problem with it is probably related to the mix with gasoline that makes it become E85 – a proportion of 15 percent of gas to 85 percent of ethanol. Ethanol may also not be very efficient to use with a reformer and a fuel cell.
The other missing piece of information was how many First Editions would be manufactured. With a production of 500 Nathalies in total, the First Editions will account for 10 percent of that or only 50 cars.