Car buyers with an eye for greener car models will soon have one more option to add to the growing list of environmentally-friendly cars. Riversimple Movement Ltd. recently unveiled its first road-legal hydrogen prototype road car which the company developed with the help of a £2 million grant from the Welsh government last year.
This unique car is designed to get maximum range from its hydrogen fuel while at the same time emit minimal pollution. These main adjectives were achieved by an innovative design that focused on lightness, strength, safety and affordability.
Riversimple will not offer the new hydrogen-powered car through outright sale but through the company’s unique “sale of service” model. Interested motorists may use the car for a fixed monthly fee, which the company said is comparable in cost to leasing and running a family-sized hatchback. This monthly fee will cover the car’s fuel expenses, cost of repairs, maintenance and insurance and could offer the impetus needed to launch this prototype.
At the end of the ownership period, customers may opt to return the unit to Riversimple or simply exchange it for a newer model. Doing this basically frees them from depreciation concerns. This innovative car was designed and developed by a team of highly-qualified personnel who came from Formula 1 teams, aerospace engineering firms and world-renowned carmakers and is led by Hugo Spowers, Riversimple’s Founder.
Chris Reitz, one of Europe’s leading car designers, is credited for Rasa’s elegant exterior which is even more accentuated by the clean lines of the design. One of Rasa’s most impressive characteristics is its extremely low weight of only 580 kg which is actually just half the weight of a small car. This outstanding feat is achieved by the use of a carbon composite chassis and a unique powertrain that contains only 18 moving parts.
Riversimple is generous with the new technologies and componentry that were utilized in the car’s production as the company chooses an open-source approach, with the intention that sharing would eventually encourage other manufacturers to do the same and this will create economies of scale for this segment. Amazingly, its unique propulsion system consists of a rather small 8.5kW fuel cell which, at 11hp, can be compared to the size currently used in forklift trucks.
When the car is in motion, hydrogen passes through this fuel cell where it then combines with oxygen to produce electricity as well as its byproduct – water. Another energy-saving feature of the car is that it reabsorbs more than 50% of the kinetic energy produced when braking which is then converted to electric energy and stored temporarily in a bank of super-capacitors. This enables the car to have an astounding 300 mile range for every 1.5kg of hydrogen which is equivalent to a fuel economy of 250 mpg, with a top speed of 60 mph.
This vehicle boasts of having the lowest carbon emission for any vehicle ‘wheel-to-wheel’ at a mere 40g CO2/km, with water being the only output. With another € 2million EU grant, Riversimple will start a public 12-month Beta trial involving 20 Rasa prototypes, the production model of which will be available by 2018.
Spowers said that the Rasa prototype is a milestone in demonstrating a working, affordable yet highly-efficient car powered by hydrogen. In addition, the Rasa introduces to motorists a new way of car ownership that is both budget and environment friendly, paving the way for an easier adoption of this new green-powered alternative.