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Friday, February 19, 2016

The Riversimple Rasa Hopes to Take Hydrogen Cars Mainstream


Copyright © 2016 Bold Ride LLC.

Chances are you don’t drive a hydrogen-powered car. Your friends don’t drive hydrogen cars, nor do your family members, despite there being a few fuel cell vehicles on today’s market. One UK company wants to change that however. 
This sleek prototype, unveiled on Wednesday, is the Riversimple Rasa. It has been designed from the ground up to make hydrogen fuel cell vehicles more accessible, and Riversimple plans to put it on the market by 2018, following a 20-car beta test beginning later this year. You won’t be able to buy one though, per se.


Riversimple addresses the car business not intending to sell any of these Rasa coupes, but instead sell mobility as a service. Customers will pay a single monthly fee, much like your cell phone or cable bill, which will cover the cost of the car, insurance, fuel, and all maintenance. At the end of the lease contract, the car is then returned, before finding a new home. Riversimple says it eyes annual production of about 5,000 vehicles.
As for the cars, they’re about as forward-thinking as they look, somewhat reminiscent of the space-age Volkswagen XL1 coupes. The carbon composite two-seaters are powered by an 8.5kW hydrogen fuel cell, which stores its energy in a bank of super capacitors, and applies it to four electric motors—one at each wheel.

The result is a car that can achieve 300 miles of driving range between fill-ups, an equivalent of 250 mpg, a top speed of 55 miles per hour, all at a weight of just 1,278 pounds. While the Rasa could certainly tackle a sweeping country lane, it’s been designed for a life of local city commuting.

So far research and development for the project has received generous support from UK and European governments, which include a £2 million ($2.8 million) grant from the Welsh government, a €2 million ($2.2 million) Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking grant, along with support from Innovate UK. At a later date, the company will also be open to private investments, it says.

Time will tell if the repeat leasing model and its sleek cars will resonate with customers, that said, we could be witnessing the emergence of something very special indeed.