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Welsh company unveils hydrogen powered road car

18 February 2016

Riversimple Movement's 'Rasa' is a road-legal prototype of the company's first two-seater hydrogen powered road car, built for European type approval.

Riversimple Movement's Rasa hydrogen powered car

Supported by a £2m grant from the Welsh government in 2015, the Rasa has been designed for lightness, strength, affordability and safety, and will be offered to motorists through Riversimple's novel '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, but 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 top-level team drawn from prestige carmakers, to Formula 1 teams and aerospace engineering companies. The body style is by Chris Reitz, one of Europe’s leading car designers.

With a total kerb weight of just 580kg (nearly half of a small car), it features a carbon composite chassis and only 18 moving parts in the entire powertrain. When the vehicle is in motion, hydrogen passes through the small 8.5kW fuel cell (the size currently used in forklift trucks, equivalent to 11hp), where it combines with oxygen to power motors positioned at each of the four wheels, driving the car to a maximum of 60mph.

More than 50 percent of the kinetic energy produced under braking is recovered and is used to boost acceleration via a bank of super-capacitors. Riversimple claims a range of up to 300 miles on 1.5kg of hydrogen - an estimated fuel economy equivalent to 250mpg.  At around 40g CO2/km, the Riversimple car has the lowest carbon emissions of 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.

“The Rasa engineering prototype marks another key milestone in bringing an affordable and highly-efficient hydrogen-powered car to market," says Hugo Spowers, Founder of Riversimple Movement. "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.”

Headquartered in Llandrindod Wells in Wales, Riversimple was founded in 2001 (under the previous name of OScar Automotive) by the Oxford and Cranfield University graduate, and automotive engineer, Hugo Spowers. Collaborating with the Morgan Motor Company on their first hydrogen fuel cell car (the LIFECar) in 2008, Riversimple’s small 'Hyrban' technology demonstrator was launched the following year.

The arrival of the company’s Rasa engineering prototype in 2016, sees Riversimple take a hydrogen-powered commuter car from the laboratory to the road in only eight years.  It has also become the world’s first private producer of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, and the first to adopt a circular service-based ownership model, which rewards longevity, efficiency and recovery of value at end of life, with no actual product for sale.

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