Pioneering engineers in clean technologies, Viritech has launched its breakthrough hydrogen powertrain technology in the form of the Apricale, the world’s first zero-emissions hypercar to achieve weight parity with petrol-powered rivals, at the Goodwood Festival of Speed today.
Performance with purpose
Apricale is the first car in the world to achieve the performance of a zero-emission hypercar, weighing just 1,000 kg. This transforms the driving experience of the Apricale. it combines the agility of the best gasoline-powered hypercars with the instantaneous response of an electric motor. Indeed, the electric drivetrain means it’s actually more responsive than a traditional hypercar.
However, the Apricale does more than just transform the electric hypercar. With the combination of light weight and zero emissions, it opens up a new world of sustainable transportation. Many vehicles cannot run on a powertrain that weighs more than an equivalent internal combustion engine. Until now, these categories of vehicles have been excluded from the switch to zero-emission powertrains, because batteries are always heavier than internal combustion engines – and the higher the power required, the greater the difference.
The Apricale’s powertrain represents a historic landmark. This proves that a zero-emission powertrain can offer the same power, weight and range as a combustion engine.
Reimaging of FCEV
The ambition to overcome all the trade-offs of zero-emission vehicles forced Viritech engineers to completely reconsider how fuel cells and batteries work together. Matt Faulks, CTO of Viritech Explain, “Hydrogen fuel cells have until now been used as range extenders for powertrains with batteries at their core. We’ve essentially flipped that approach by developing a powertrain around a fuel cell system. of several hundred kW backed by a lightweight yet highly efficient battery.This delivers hypercar performance for Apricale, but at less than half the weight of typical BEV hypercars.
Faulks continues, “Not only does this weight reduction transform Apricale’s driving dynamics, but our reduced reliance on batteries means less demand for rare earth minerals.”
Hundreds of kW fuel cells are combined with unique ultra-high power lithium-ion cells developed by technical partners, AMTE Power and Viritech’s patent-pending intelligent energy management system, Tri-Volt™ . While the fuel cells provide Apricale’s primary motive power, the battery provides additional power for acceleration and ultra-performance driving, as well as highly efficient storage for regenerative braking energy.
Viritech’s Tri-Volt™ energy management system and patent-pending power electronics enable a continuously variable blend of power from both fuel cells and batteries. In addition, the very fast charging and discharging batteries allow the regenerative braking system to recover significantly more kinetic energy than a traditional battery electric vehicle.
Hydrogen has been another key weight issue so far. To withstand the pressure of 700 bar, most hydrogen storage tanks have a weight efficiency of only around 5% (i.e. 5 kg of hydrogen requires a 100 kg storage tank ). Viritech engineers have developed a radical solution. Viritech’s patent-pending Graph-Pro™ technology uses lightweight composites and a graphene-enabled resin system, allowing the tanks to become part of the structural element of the Apricale monocoque. This solution minimizes weight, improves packaging and provides a projected range of over 350 miles/560 km before refueling.
The chassis, unimpeded
The fact that Apricale weighs just 1,000kg means it can escape the driving constraints of a BEV hypercar. The suspension includes a versatile pull-rod torsion bar suspension with a limited degree of active ride control.
With a low polar moment of inertia, the car will have the dynamic characteristics of a classic mid-engined supercar with minimal weight transfer under steering, yaw and pitch.
There are two drive motors (one on the front axle, one on the rear). Weighing less than 1,000kg, torque vectoring requirements are limited, so the transmission uses a pair of mechanical differentials.
The unique combination of lightness and instantaneous response of the electric motors means the Apricale will be even more inspiring to drive than a traditional supercar.
Technology of the future fused with timeless design
The Apricale revealed today at Goodwood was originally conceived as a reference design by Viritech, and optimized by Pininfarina.
Silvio Angori, CEO of Pininfarina describes the design as “a synthesis of technology, durability, beauty and above all performance”. Viritech is extremely proud to be working with perhaps the biggest name in automotive design, a partnership that embodies Apricale’s mission to take the legacy of the hypercar and completely reinvent it for the future.
Along with developing the style of the Apricale, Viritech is in discussions with Pininfarina to build the limited production run of just 25 examples at its Cambiano workshop in Turin.
With stunning looks, Apricale will not only be seen, but also heard. Matt Faulks explains that “cars need to be imbued with personality” and to that end Apricale will have its own distinct, futuristic sound emanating from fuel cells and electric drivetrain.
Delivered in 2024
Apricale’s key technologies, including transmission, Tri-Volt™ EMS and Graph-Pro™ structural storage tanks, have already been validated in two mule vehicles that have been successfully tested. Experimental Prototype 1 (XP1) will provide the final approval process for the powertrain. While XP1 will be tested over 100,000 km, it will ride a production prototype, intended to validate all aspects of Apricale in 2023, so that Viritech can begin deliveries to customers in early 2024.
The technologies developed by Viritech are highly scalable. Viritech focused on the Apricale for its first application since a hypercar platform makes the greatest demands on power, weight and packaging. Proven in Apricale, the powertrain technology is developed by Viritech for a diverse range of sustainable transportation applications.
Matt Faulks, CTO of Viritech, said‘Apricale allowed us to completely reassess the benefits offered by the different energy carriers. Until now, engineering choices have been limited and compromised, but adding hydrogen to the mix offers a whole new range of capabilities that we have sought to optimize with a new approach to FCEV. Apricale is going to be spectacularly exciting for its owners and we really hope it marks a new chapter in powertrain technology. It’s great to see that vision come true at Goodwood today.
Timothy Lyons, Founder of Viritech said, “Viritech aims to become the world’s leading developer of hydrogen powertrain solutions and the Apricale, with its requirement to optimize weight, space and performance, has provided us with the ideal development platform for our core powertrain technologies, which have also been designed for wide application in the coming era of sustainable transportation.