It seats four, has full-length gull-wing doors that grant access to both front and rear seats, and stunning super car looks. Its launch video — a heady mix of full-on soundtrack, adrenaline-pumping drive-by shots and special effects — could put many Hollywood studios to shame. Its performance specifications are in Tesla territory.
With a claimed 0-62mph time of 2.9 seconds and a top speed of over 217 mph, the Quant e-Sportlimousine could become the next big thing in the automotive world if it successfully passes testing and enters into production. Yet it isn’t the e-Sportlimousine’s claimed 372 mile range or four-wheel drive capabilities that make this car stand apart from others. The unusual flow cell technology used in lieu of a conventional battery pack is, along with the salt water it uses as a power source.
Approved last week by the German road safety authority known as Technischer Überwachungsverein (TÜV for short) for road testing, the Quant e-Sportlimousine is powered by two tanks of liquid electrolyte which pass through a specially-designed membrane, generating electric current and powering the car’s powerful motors.
The technology — something Quant calls ‘nanoFLOWCELL’ — was debuted at this year’s Geneva Motor Show, but it didn’t get a whole lot of attention from mainstream press.
Now with the car approved for testing, that’s changing, with the Quant hitting the headlines as a car which could change the way we think about batteries forever.
Flow cells — or flow batteries as they are sometimes called — work by passing two liquids (electrolytes) containing different chemical components either side of a specially-designed membrane. While the two liquids do not mix and stay in their own closed system, an electrical reaction takes place between the two liquids as they pass over either side of the membrane, inducing an electrical current.
Essentially then, flow cells operate in a similar way to a traditional battery, but instead of the electrolyte living inside the battery, flow cells store their electrolyte outside of the battery in discrete storage tanks.
This makes it possible for discharged electrolyte to be pumped out of the tank and replenished with fresh, fully charged electrolyte in the same time it takes to fill a car with gasoline. Spent electrolyte can then be recovered and recharged away from the vehicle, allowing for a quick refill without worrying about damage due to rapid recharging. In the case of the e-Sportlimousine, salt water is used as an electrolyte, something that’s abundant around the world.
Quant says the e-Sportlimousine has a 120 kilowatt-hour storage capacity, made possible by ultra-high density flow cells and two large electrolyte tanks taking the place of traditional, heavy battery pack materials. Some back of the napkin maths suggests that the Quant e-Sportlimousine will have an energy efficiency of around 3.1 miles per kilowatt-hour.
While that’s hardly groundbreaking — the Tesla Model S has a similar efficiency — the prospect of being able to recharge in minutes rather than hours will ensure this vehicle gets a whole lot of attention.
If that isn’t enough to get you interested however, there’s something else you should know about the Quant e-Sportlimousine. The company behind it — NanoFlowcell — was founded by Nunzio La Vecchia, a physicist and electrochemical engineer who worked at NLV Solar to develop the Koenigsegg Quant concept car. Powered by a combination of photovoltaic solar panels and something called the ‘Flow Accumulator Energy Storage’ system, the Koenigsegg Quant is essentially the e-Sportlimousine’s ancestor.
As you might have guessed from the name, it was also car developed and supported in collaboration with Christian von Koenigsegg, founder of Swedish supercar company Koenigsegg. A known electric car fan and owner of a Tesla Model S, von Koenigsegg has been looking for a way into the electric car world for many years, and it looks like he’s finally found his niche.
Of course, it’s a long way from prototype road-testing to showroom, but if successful this could be the car to change the way we fill up (and charge) forever, using a technology we used to think was the stuff of April Fools day pranks.
Watch this space.
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