Electric cars have been around for a long time. The first working models were built between 1828 and 1835. The jury is still out on when the first full-size electric vehicle was created, but it was in Scotland by either Robert Davidson in 1837 or Robert Anderson somewhere between 1832 or 1839.
The problem with these first “cars” was that they used galvanic batteries. So if the power ran out, they needed new batteries. The rechargeable types weren’t invented until 1859, but it took until 1884 before Thomas Parker built the first vehicle to be considered practical, rechargeable and an actual car.
Fast forward to the present
Despite some success in the early 1900’s, the BEV’s (Battery Electric Vehicles) pretty much disappeared after 1920. There were a few more attempts along the way, but battery powered cars didn’t make a full comeback until 2007 – 2008, when Smart and Tesla released their first models. BEV’s are fairly popular right now, and I especially like Car2Go, the innercity car sharing program by Daimler. But even so, in my opinion, the current battery powered cars just aren’t practical enough.
We’ve been hearing for years that batteries will get better, lighter, longer-lasting. And yes, they have improved somewhat, but they’re still too heavy and just don’t give cars enough range. Because people sometimes need to be able to do two long drives without hours of charging in between. Even though these zero emission cars are great for certain situations, they just don’t suffice for general use. But like I said, for a city like Amsterdam, the electric Smarts are brilliant.
Just because current BEV’s don’t strike me as the way to go, that doesn’t mean that electric cars are doomed. The electric drive itself (an electric motor to power a vehicle) is pretty efficient. It’s just that I don’t believe in only using a battery pack to power it. But look at the hybrid systems that are used in racing classes like Formula 1 (for story click here), those 4-wheel rockets combine internal combustion (gasoline) engines with very intelligent and efficient battery power. And the power outputs of F1’s electric motors are highly impressive.
Electric engines can also be powered by other systems, like fuel cells. Take the Honda FCX Clarity for instance, its fuel cell runs on hydrogen and the only thing coming out of the exhaust is water. In 2008 Top Gear named it The Most Important Car in 100 Years, and they may have been right. But it’s almost 6 years later now, and there seems to be a new candidate.
The QUANT e-Sportlimousine
On August 28, 2014, the QUANT e-Sportlimousine was officially licenced to operate on European public roads. According to the manufacturer the QUANT is a 920 horsepower, 350 km/h supercar that is powered by a nanoFLOWCELL.
So what is a nanoFLOWCELL? Well, let’s try to keep it simple. It’s an energy storage system, that differs from other systems by its abilty to store and release electric energy at very high densities. It actually runs on salt water, and it’s supposed to be compact and powerful, and should give the car a maximum range of 600 km. And if that’s true, it’s a giant leap from what’s on the market right now.
What’s in a name?
The current model should cost more than a million euros, which is obviously ridiculous money, but actually in the same price range as other 300+ km/h hypercars from Bugatti, McLaren and Pagani. And to be honest, the price doesn’t matter much. What matters is if the system works and it can eventually be produced at a modest price. Well, the manufacturer claims that the electrolyte flow cell power system can be produced at “low cost” So let’s see…
The name could be sexed up a bit. Okay that sounds wrong, I mean it could use a sexier name. Take the name “Tesla S” for instance, not only does it refer to one of the most important persons in the history of electric engineering, it also rolls of the tongue nicely. Whereas “QUANT e-Sportlimousine” sounds rather dorky, but I guess the guys at Quant have been a little preoccupied. Revolutionizing the car industry can be hard work.