Riversimple Movement Ltd. unveiled the Rasa, a road-legal engineering prototype of its first two-seater hydrogen fuel cell road car, built for full European type approval. (Earlier post.) Supported by a £2-million (US$2.9-million) grant from the Welsh government in 2015, the Rasa was designed for lightness, strength, affordability and safety.
Riversimple plans to offer the car to motorists through a “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 simply exchange or return the car at the end of the ownership period.
Led by Riversimple’s Founder, Hugo Spowers, the Rasa has been engineered by a team from carmakers, Formula 1 teams and aerospace engineering companies. Its lines were styled by Chris Reitz, one of Europe’s leading car designers.
With a total curb weight of 580 kg (1,279 lbs)—nearly half of a small car—it features a carbon composite chassis and only 18 moving parts in the entire powertrain. 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 Rasa uses a small 8.5kW fuel cell (the size currently used in forklift trucks, equivalent to 11 hp) to power 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 (483 kg) on 1.5kg of hydrogen and a top speed of 60 mph.
Starting later this year, following funding to match a €2-million (US$2.23 million) 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 refueling infrastructure.
Headquartered 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, with the primary purpose of “pursuing, systematically, the elimination of the environmental impact of personal transport.”
Collaborating with the Morgan Motor Company on their first hydrogen fuel cell car (“the LIFECar”) in 2008 (earlier post), Riversimple’s small “Hyrban” technology demonstrator was launched the following year (earlier post). 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 8 years.