Early in the morning, the driver team prepares for the test drive with the QUANTiNO. The focus for today is once more on the temperature profile at sustained high speed. To be more exact, all electrical system components are being tested for temperature fluctuations under continuous load. The QUANTiNO's extremely compact low-voltage architecture is something completely new in the automotive world. It's not just the flow cell drive that makes the QUANTiNO special - it's also the first road-legal electric car worldwide to feature a high-performance, low-voltage traction system.
The nanoFlowcell drive in the QUANTiNO has already been tested in a diverse array of weather conditions - and in typical Swiss fashion, through mountainous terrain as well. Having successfully completed its first 14-hour endurance test in February, the electric car has since been subjected to a series of different tests. Today, it's back on the motorway - when the nanoFlowcell will once again have to withstand sustained loads. Before this day is over, at least another 1,000 test kilometres will have been added to the clock.
It's a beautiful late-summer evening - the kind that draws people outdoors to enjoy the sunshine. The QUANTiNO is ready to set off on a longer "journey" planned for today by the test engineers from the nanoFlowcell development team.
The system will soon be ready for market, with final refinements currently being made to the control software. Experiments are also ongoing with different concentrations of the bi-ION electrolyte liquid. Research never stops.
The nanoFlowcell, which is the actual energy storage medium as such, is already fully developed. Current challenges relate to the fine tuning of the QUANT test vehicle. However, we made the conscious decision to tackle the most complex of all applications - installation of nanoFlowcell into an electric vehicle - to provide an impressive demonstration of the performance potential of nanoFlowcell technology. Instead of using a finished "EV tool kit", we opted for lengthy, in-house development of a standalone EV concept. On the one hand, we do not wish the technology to be identified during the development process with one particular car market. And, on the other, this approach provides even greater design flexibility, as "form follows function" applies to the QUANT models, too.
In contrast perhaps to the QUANT FE, the QUANTiNO does not necessarily provoke other drivers to demand shows of strength. Yet it turns heads nevertheless - the QUANTiNO is (still) an exotic sight on the road. And its design hints at what its drive delivers - sheer electric innovation. This is where the future begins.
It's a beautiful day. If the measurement equipment weren't installed in the car and the co-driver weren't so focused on following the data flowing into his laptop, you might easily see this as a fun day out.
At motorway speeds, the two pumps provide a continual supply of electrolyte to the flow cell, while the nanoFlowcell tirelessly converts the chemical energy into electricity.
The motor hums at 12,500 rpm. A spontaneous kick-down is rewarded with immediate acceleration - the pulling power is amazing! Even at speeds upwards of 100 km/h the QUANTiNO delivers an impressive shove in the back.
Click. The trip counter reaches 1,000 kilometres. The target distance has been reached. The QUANTiNO's consumption averaged the anticipated 12 kWh per 100 kilometres. Once the nanoFlowcell is adjustable, development engineers look forward to unlocking further savings potential here.
In stop-and-go traffic through downtown Zürich on the way back, the system recovers braking energy released from every braking manoeuvre. This is then stored temporarily in a buffer battery. The QUANTiNO is more than just a test vehicle - it's a fully-fledged electric vehicle that has reached production maturity. The test driver and co-driver finally call it a day after 1,167 kilometres and a little less than one tank.
Slow traffic is advantageous for the young photographers hunting expensive, fast, and exotic car makes on weekends here at the Bürkliplatz in Zurich. It doesn't require the usual prototype-camouflage design to realize that the QUANTiNO is not a regular car.
The miles that have been covered so far in testing would be enough to circumnavigate the earth several times over. But why is development taking so long? Fine tuning the control systems for the drive in the QUANTiNO is utterly new territory in automotive design. There are no figures from previous experience to which the nanoFlowcell development team can refer - both the nanoFlowcell drive and the low-voltage traction system in the QUANTiNO are unique in the world. Now there are just a few weeks to go until the live premiere - the first public test drive. But until then, there is still a whole lot of testing to be done with the QUANTiNO.
As the sun sets, the last rays reflect from the waves of Lake Zürich. The design of the QUANTiNO attracts inquisitive looks and elicits the occasional "cool". What would onlookers says if they knew they were standing in front of the world's most revolutionary electric car - in the middle of Zürich, in front of a small café beside the lake.