We've all heard of electric. Petrol-electric, yes. Diesel-electric, yes. Hydrogen fuel cells, yes. But this?
Roland Gumpert, the founder of Gumpert sports car brand, believes that electricity is not our future. Well, not entirely. No, he believes that the world will be powered by methanol-electric cars like this one here, the Gumpert Nathalie, and that it's only a matter of time:
“This technology will take over the world," he said speaking to AutoExpress UK, "There is no recharging involved and no wires to plug. With methanol you have your own powerplant inside the car.”
Yes, burning methanol will act as the on-board powerplant for a generic electric motor, which Gumpert reckons will change the world. As such, what we have here is the Gumpert RG Nathalie, which, despite having the strangest name in the world, is the Earth's very first methanol-electric car, put together by the foresight of Gumpert himself and a little known Chinese start-up called AIWAYS.
First things first: On the looks side of things we are impressed. Unlike most other sports car out there these days, the Nathalie is bulky, dak, like a GTR. In fact, its profile is a little too much like the GTR for Nissan's liking we would reckon, but the Nathalie itself, we think, is better looking.
It's vintage late 80s/early 90s styling and we like it a lot!
A lot, a lot.
It's a pity then that the Nathalie will come to nothing because despite what Gumpert says, Methanol-electric is not the future, no matter how brilliant its tech is and no matter how fantastic this is: The Nathalie will only need to refill every 1200kms!
Sure, Gumpert's reasoning is sound enough: Burning methanol is carbon neutral because it only produces CO2 and water when it is burnt - and the CO2 part of it is balanced-out in the making of methanol itself. As such, he believes that switching to methanol-electric makes more sense. It is environmentally friendly and it does not require extensive infrastructural change on the ground.
It makes even more sense when we consider the fact that the Gumpert RG Nathalie uses methanol to power electric motors that are now being fine-tuned and used all the time. Essentially, the tech is just a different way to power the electric motors that are coming, whether we like it or not.
So what's the problem?
This is the problem: There was a time in the 20th century when the world could have gone electric or petrol. But, when the world decided it was going petrol, investment shifted and electric was a goner.
We would argue then that the world has already decided that it will go fully electric (and methanol free) and all major brands already have too much money invested into prepping for the electric 20s. It would surely be inconceivable telling major brands to back track now after billions have already been spent, names have already been patented and plans have already been drawn for the next 20 years.
From China to Europe to liberal America, the trend is electric. The future is electric. So, can the stronghold be broken and can methanol-electric triumph?
We just can't see how it's possible.
Oh - and if you've read this far wondering what things are like on the performance side of things when it comes to the Nathalie. Well, nothing has been released yet. Sorry my bro. Our bad.