Which way the future takes us is a moot question but in the world of automobiles, hydrogen attempts to be an alternative to battery electric cars.
EVs maybe touted as the answer when the oil dries up but even electric cars are made from batteries which consume earth metals along with the fundamental issue of weight and charging them in the first place.
Hydrogen is called nature’s battery and aims to solve the issue of finding renewable energy to take off the challenge on our grid as more electricity is hungrily demanded.
Hydrogen cars: Taking aim at EVs
In cars, hydrogen has occasionally been experimented with while the only successful production car which is powered by hydrogen is the Toyota Mirai. However, in the rarefied world of hypercars, hydrogen has remained aloof. Till now that is as it being lighter than battery electric cars has spurred a start-up to make one.
Meet the Viritech Apricale hypercar that aims to clobber electric and gas-powered rocket ships while being fed on hydrogen. It is also infused with F1 technology with the agenda of having the lightweight structure of a conventional gasoline powered car along with the advantage of the relentless torque and power which an EV powertrain provides.
Hydrogen cars: Range of 350 miles
Alongside being sold in limited numbers, the Apricale is a sort of a rolling showcase for the hydrogen fuel cell technology that the company has. The hypercar made its debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed and is available in only limited numbers with deliveries starting from 2024.
The engineering firm certainly has sinked its teeth into the packaging of the Apricale as the power-to-weight ratio is astounding given that is zero emissions but without the burden of weight. Viritech claims that its car is half the weight of electric hypercars with a weight of only 1,000 kg.
The numbers then get better and better with a FCEV hydrogen powertrain which delivers 1,000 bhp. It is a complex unit being built around a multi-hundred kW fuel cell system supported by a lightweight battery. Here, the fuel cells provide the main power with the battery being a supporting actor as it also is used for regenerative braking.
$2.3 million price tag
However along with all that, hydrogen tanks need to be big and heavy since around 5 kg of hydrogen requires a 100 kg tank. That is where Viritech has used lightweight composites and a graphene-enabled resin system in making the tank a part of the structure itself. The claimed range is over 350 miles/560 kms. There are two drive motors (one on the front axle, one on the rear) with 1000 bhp.
We must also touch upon the design which is striking and penned by the folks at Pininfarina. The shape is standard hypercar fare being low and wide but some details like those wheels and the sharper intakes are rather nicely done. We can also see a hint of Koenigsegg amidst those rakish lines.
The car is likely to cost £1.5 million ($2.3 million CAD) but given the complex engineering that you see, it’s more of a technology demonstrator that shows that EVs are not the only solution.
Hydrogen cars: Specs
Powertrain: 800kW total deployable energy, 6kWh Battery Pack, 2 x 400kW motors front and rear
Final Drive: Single ratio geared for 200+mph
Chassis: Carbon fibre monocoque
Suspension: Dual wishbone pullrod actuated torsion bar front and rear, R53 Dampers
Wheels: Dymag carbon fibre rim with magnesium centre
Tyres: 20” x 10.5” front, 20” x 12.5” Rear Michelin PS4
Braking System: 390 x 34mm CCM Discs, AP Racing 6-piston front and 4 piston rear calipers, Bosch ABS
Hydrogen Storage: 700bar, 5.4kg
Dimensions: Length 455cm, Width 190cm, Height 115cm, Wheelbase 280cm
Ground Clearance: 95mm to 135mm (active ride height)