The folks are Riversimple are proud to present the first production prototype of a revolutionary hydrogen fuel cell car from Wales – Riversimple Rasa.
To understand Riversimple is to start with them on that blank piece of paper. Their business, as they see it, is not car manufacturing, but a mobility system that’s responsive to economic and environmental constraints. In their model, customers will pay a monthly fee for a car and all of the maintenance, insurance, and fuel that it takes to run it. They throw around phrases like “whole system design” and talk about creating value for all their stakeholders, which include customers, investors, the environment, the community, staff and commercial partners.
But if the manifesto is weighty, the Rasa (which is, actually, a car) is anything but. It weighs a scant 580kg, or 1278lbs, and is formed of carbon fibre composites, powered by hydrogen, and meant to be driven on local roads for everyday journeys. It’s a small two-seater with rakish butterfly doors, bulbously aerodynamic in a way that’s equal parts Formula 1 and first-gen Honda Insight.
Its fuel-cell powertrain is described as a “Network Electric” system. Four in-hub motors use recovery braking to charge supercapacitors (which charge faster than traditional batteries) that then release electricity back to the motors for acceleration. That means that the hydrogen fuel cells which power the system don’t need accelerative juice, merely power to keep the Rasa moving through traffic. That moving can happen at speeds as high as 60mph, and its 1.5kg tank of compressed hydrogen can carry it 300 miles between refills at an equivalent 250mpg.
For now, of course, refills are the rub. Even two years ago, hydrogen-powered vehicles seemed like one part of a bigger transportation future, but the lack of infrastructure (in combination with some Musk naysaying and the fact that hydrogen manufacture is energy- and often carbon-intensive) have dropped it to fringe status.
For more information, check out the Riversimple.