Called the Rasa, this first Riversimple car is a two seater ‘network electric’ car, powered by a hydrogen fuel cell (see diagram below).
The engineering prototype has clocked over 60mph and has been weaving neatly through the traffic in London, as well as gliding down the country lanes in Wales.
RECYCLING AND ZERO TAILPIPE EMISSIONS
The engineering prototype weighs 580 kgs. The chassis is made from very lightweight but extremely stiff carbon fibre composites and the body is also made of lightweight composites. The car is powered by an 8.5 kW hydrogen fuel cell. The four electric wheel motors recover over 50% of the kinetic energy when braking, with super-capacitors to store this energy.
The production prototype should do 250 mpg petrol equivalent, with a range of 300 miles. Emissions are zero at the tailpipe and even if the hydrogen comes from natural gas there is only about 40gCO2/km well-to-wheel. The impact on the environment is minimised: even the car seats are covered with a high quality material which has been manufactured from recycled plastic bottles. Riversimple’s engineers are ensuring that every component part of the supply chain is of long lasting quality. They are selling a service not a product and long life and recycling will make it cost effective for suppliers as well as for customers.
The Rasa is designed to meet a growing demand for eco-friendly cars. World populations are growing, regulatory pressures to stop environmental damage are increasing and there is a growing global demand for mobility. At the same time fuel supplies are decreasing and the environment cannot continue to assimilate carbon dioxide safely,
NETWORK ELECTRIC CAR
Energy flows constantly from the 8.5 kW fuel cell to the electric motors. It is supplemented by power from the super-capacitors when required for acceleration. The super-capacitors are replenished by energy from the motors when braking.
USER FRIENDLY HYDROGEN REFUELLING
Riversimple believes that as fuel cell cars continue to prove themselves, the supporting infrastructure will follow. That, after all, is what happened with mobile phones.
The company envisages multiple-fuel forecourts with a combination of quick stop hydrogen fuel pumps and longer stop battery-charging points. Ultimately petrol and diesel would be phased out as dirty fuels. To get things started, Riversimple is working with hydrogen refuelling partners to put in hydrogen stations one by one in hub locations near where the customers live. The more people who want a Riversimple car in any given area, the sooner hydrogen refuelling pumps can be installed.
The first road-going fuel cell car is designed for everyday journeys like the daily commute. With a range of 300 miles, it will last most people a week of local travelling before needing to fill it at the local hydrogen fuel station.
Renewable energy could be used onsite to provide hydrogen and rural stations could be linked to farms for example. Refuelling stations could also be at a coffee shop or at railway stations or supermarkets.
This production prototype has been designed by Chris Reitz, former design chief for the Fiat 500, and his team at their studio in Barcelona. With further funding, 20 cars will be ready for a Beta test with customers later this year.
Riversimple invites anyone interested in participating to contact them at www.riversimple.com