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Goodbye petrol, hello hydrogen? The is the concept from Riversimple.

Introducing Riversimple’s hydrogen powered “Rasa” model

By Grace Cunningham on 19th February 2016

Introducing the Rasa : a road-legal engineering prototype of its first two-seater hydrogen powered road car, built for full European type approval. After receiving a £2m grant from the Welsh government in 2015, every aspect of the Rasa has been tailor-made and interrogated for lightness, strength, affordability and safety, to produce a vehicle that will maximise hydrogen as a fuel source and minimise pollution.

Riversimple will offer the car to motorists through its unique “sale of service” model. For a fixed monthly fee and mileage allowance, similar in expenditure to leasing and running a new family-sized hatchback, the company will cover all repair, maintenance, insurance and fuel expenses. Customers will never actually buy the car and experience the burden of depreciation; they will simply exchange or return it at the end of the ownership period.

Led by Riversimple’s Founder, Hugo Spowers, the Rasa has been engineered by a highly-skilled team from some of the world’s most renowned carmakers, Formula 1 teams and aerospace engineering companies. Its elegant and clean lines have been styled by Chris Reitz, one of Europe’s leading car designers. With a total kerb weight of just 580kg, it features a carbon composite chassis and only 18 moving parts in the entire powertrain. Furthermore, Riversimple will adopt an open-source approach to its technology and componentry to encourage the proliferation of its technology and economies of scale within the sector.

The Science – So how does it work?

When the vehicle is in motion, hydrogen passes through the small 8.5kW fuel cell where it combines with oxygen to form water and electricity to drive the motors positioned in each of the four wheels. More than 50% of the kinetic energy produced under braking is recovered and turned into electricity to boost acceleration via a bank of super-capacitors. The result is a range of up to 300 miles on 1.5kg of hydrogen, estimated fuel economy equivalent to 250mpg, and a top speed of 60mph. At around 40g CO2/km, the Riversimple car has the lowest carbon emissions for any vehicle ‘well-to-wheel’, and water is the only output.

Starting later this year, following funding to match a €2m EU grant, Riversimple will be conducting a public 12-month Beta trial of 20 Rasa prototype cars as part of the continued development of the first full production model which will come to market in 2018. It will be offered to individuals in a strategically planned phased roll-out by region in order to support a low risk, commercially practical introduction of profitable hydrogen refuelling infrastructure.

Hugo Spowers, Founder of Riversimple Movement Ltd, said: “The Rasa engineering prototype marks another key milestone in bringing an affordable and highly-efficient hydrogen-powered car to market. We really have started from a clean sheet of paper. The Rasa gives us the opportunity to introduce customers to a more convenient concept of motoring, a lightness of ownership that neither places a burden on the pockets of motorists or the surrounding environment. The car is simple, light and fun in every respect.”