Riversimple's Rasa hydrogen-fuelled car breaks cover

By CARSIFU | 17 February 2016


LONDON: Here's the hydrogen-powered car that CarSifu told you about earlier this week.

The Rasa is a road-legal engineering prototype of the first two-seater hydrogen powered road car built by British start-up Riversimple.

The Rasa is a unique lightweight two-seater car with a range of up to 483km on 1.5kg of hydrogen. It’s designed from the ground up to run on hydrogen and has a completely different architecture to conventional cars.

It has an estimated fuel economy equivalent to 250mpg (940ml/100km), and a top speed of 97kph.  At around 40g CO2/km, the Riversimple car has the lowest carbon emissions for any vehicle 'well-to-wheel', and water is the only output.

Riversimple said it has the lowest carbon emissions for any vehicle "well-to-wheel", and water is the only output.  Public beta trial of 20 vehicles with prospective customers is proposed for later this year, with sales starting in 2018.

Supported by a £2m (RM12mil) grant from the Welsh government in 2015, every aspect of the Rasa has been tailor-made and interrogated for lightness, strength, affordability and safety, to produce a vehicle that will maximise hydrogen as a fuel source and minimise pollution.

Riversimple will offer the car to motorists through its unique “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 and experience the burden of depreciation; they will simply exchange or return it at the end of the ownership period.

Rasa (4)

The Rasa has been engineered by a team from renowned carmakers, Formula 1 teams and aerospace engineering companies.  Its elegant and clean lines have been styled by Chris Reitz, one of Europe’s leading car designers.  With a total kerb weight of 580kg (nearly half of a small car), it features a carbon composite chassis and only 18 moving parts in the entire powertrain.  Riversimple said it 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.

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 form water and electricity to drive 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 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," said Riversimple Movement Ltd founder Hugo Spowers.

Rasa (3)

"The car is simple, light and fun in every respect.”

Based in Llandrindod Wells in Wales, 315km north-west of here,  Riversimple was founded in 2001 as  OScar Automotive by the Oxford and Cranfield University graduate, and automotive engineer, Hugo Spowers. Its goal was to “pursue, 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, 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 eight years.