For high-performance car enthusiasts, the Gumpert name is a familiar one. Roland Gumpert, as head of Sport and Special Developments for Audi Sport, oversaw the development and success of the Audi Quattro, which won 25 rally titles and four rally world championships.
He founded Gumpert Sportwagenmanufaktur in 2004. The car he produced, the Gumpert Apollo, was a beast. It was a street-legal, mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive two-seater that had an engine capable of producing 850 hp, and reaching speeds in excess of 350 kmph.
In 2019, Roland returned with a new hypercar. The deceptively named Nathalie is an uncompromising hybrid-electric super sports car. It has a top speed in excess of 300 kmph. It can do the 0-to-100 kmph acceleration in 2.5 seconds. It has a 4-wheel drive (four engines, four wheels) combined with two synchronized 2-speed gearboxes.
It boasts a range of around 820 km while cursing at 120 kmph, or 1,200 km in eco mode. To put this into context, The most efficient hybrids family cars in the market can cover around 1,100 km in their most economical modes. The reason for Nathalie’s impressive range is that it is not your typical petrol-electric hybrid, but rather a methanol powered fuel-cell and battery hybrid.
“It was my vision of an electric car that does not stop when the battery is empty that paved the way for this innovation.” – Roland Gumpert, CEO, Gumpert Aiways
“Today, we’re able to present to you the world’s first production car with a Methanol-Fuel-Cell which does not rely on charging stations or designated hydrogen stations,” said Roland, the CEO of Gumpert Aiways, during the unveiling of the first completed production model.
There are some significant changes in the final production version compared to the prototype that was unveiled last June, at the International Sports Car Festival in Velden, Austria. For example, the production version has scissor doors, and 50% of the skin is now constructed using flax, a light-weight bio-materials.
The production model is equipped with a 15kW methanol-fuel-cell producing hydrogen from methanol and converting it into electricity, which is sent not to the batteries, but directly to the electric motors. This enables the car to operate in city traffic and on long-distance drives without using the buffer battery at all. The overall system energy capacity, comprising the methanol-fuel-cell and the buffer battery, is 190 kWh.
“The continued development from show car to series production gives the designer the opportunity to question his own creation, to further develop unique and important elements and to balance the aesthetics of the entire design. During the development of the design for the production model of the Nathalie, technical boundaries helped to refine the proportions of the vehicle and to sharpen the front and side lines. The vehicle has grown in exactly the right places. A perfect interplay of design and technic,” says Lorenz Loew, Head of Design at Gumpert Aiways.
The car can be refuelled with commercially available methanol, but for the first year after delivery, the supply is free for customers. The car has a 65 litres tank and, according to the manufacturer, refuelling takes only “three minutes with no special infrastructure needed.”
As can be expected from a Roland Gumpert car, Nathalie is built ready for the racetrack. It even comes with an FIA approved roll cage.
Globally, there are only 500 units available. This includes the “First Edition” – a “strictly limited edition” within the Nathalie-range that was unveiled during the Nathalie product launch. It features “extensive” special equipment and distinctive exterior paint. They are available for delivery in the first half of 2021.
Gumpert Aiways was founded in 2017 at Ingolstadt. It is a subsidiary of the international technology company Aiways, headquartered in Shanghai. Fu Qiang is the current Aiways president, while Roland is the CPO, as well as being the CEO of Gumpert Aiways.