Riversimple introduces Rasa prototype two-seater fuel cell vehicle; 300 miles on 1.5kg H2; production version in 2018

17 February 2016

Riversimple Movement Ltd. unveiled the Rasa, a road-legal engineering prototype of its first two-seater hydrogen fuel cell road car, built for full European type approval. (Earlier post.) Supported by a £2-million (US$2.9-million) grant from the Welsh government in 2015, the Rasa was designed for lightness, strength, affordability and safety. Riversimple plans to offer the car to motorists through a “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 simply exchange or return the car at the end of the ownership period. Led by Riversimple’s Founder, Hugo Spowers, the Rasa has been engineered by a team from carmakers, Formula 1 teams and aerospace engineering companies. Its lines were styled by Chris Reitz, one of Europe’s leading car designers. With a total curb weight of 580 kg (1,279 lbs)—nearly half of a small car—it features a carbon composite chassis and only 18 moving parts in the entire powertrain. Riversimple 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. The Rasa uses a small 8.5kW fuel cell (the size currently used in forklift trucks, equivalent to 11 hp) to power 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 result is a range of up to 300 miles (483 kg) on 1.5kg of hydrogen and a top speed of 60 mph. Starting later this year, following funding to match a €2-million (US$2.23 million) EU grant, Riversimple will be conducting a public 12-month Beta trial of 20 Rasa prototype cars as part of the continued development of the first full production model which will come to market in 2018.

It will be offered to individuals in a strategically planned phased roll-out by region in order to support a low risk, commercially practical introduction of profitable hydrogen refueling infrastructure.

Headquartered in Wales, Riversimple was founded in 2001 (under the previous name of OScar Automotive) by the Oxford and Cranfield University graduate, and automotive engineer, Hugo Spowers, with the primary purpose of “pursuing, 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 (earlier post), Riversimple’s small “Hyrban” technology demonstrator was launched the following year (earlier post). 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 only 8 years.

Some 300 miles or about 480 Km with 1.5 Kg of H2 or 1.5 gal of gas equivalent or 200 mpg equivalent is something to dream about.

Ultra light weight seems to be the secret together with the higher efficiency of H2 and FC.

Imagine clean H2 at future low price of under \$6/Kg you would move 2 people at about 1.8 cents/Km

An ideal all weather vehicle to go to work? Make it autonomous drive and electronically linked with others...

"The Rasa uses a small 8.5kW fuel cell.."
A smaller cell stack means lower costs.
As a range extender for an EV, fuel cells may have a future.

You know, sceptical as I am of car company start ups, I am starting to like this.

For 95% of the population, in crowded cities around the world, sub 4 second 0-60 times are irrelevant, and many, many people just have nowhere to plug in conveniently.

I like the idea of capacitors to provide acceleration and regen, they are more efficient and last forever.

I still don't really believe the 2 seat design, and I reckon that something with around 20kw of power from the stack and 4 seats with a 3 kg tank might be the sweet spot.

Once Toyota can get some respectable volume, even in the tens of thousands, which they are due to hit by 2020 for their ~100 kw stacks then they should be able to seriously reduce costs for a ~20kw stack.

They are working with BMW in fuel cells, and BMW's light weight body technology would be right at home with a small stack and capacitors.

It sounds good, so we will probably end up with electric Hummer/RVs with 2 second 0-60's instead, but I can dream.

I am with you on this one Davemart, look how popular the Mazda Miata was, they had a real good run with that model.

Unfortunately, until the latest model, the Miata was not good on gas for it's size.

Well considering what you just said then it was REAL popular. We are referring to the two seater and if there is a market, apparently so.

This looks like a streamlined and slightly amped up golf cart. Maybe, it could be used in some retirement communities but I do not think that it would have much of a market in the US. My commute has a number of miles at 70 mph (legal speed and many are driving over that including double tanker trucks hauling crude). The legal speed limit on most interstates around here is mostly 75 or 80 mph. It also unlikely to meet US safety standards and would fair poorly against a pickup truck. I know all to well about this as I was commuting on a dual sport motorcycle (and getting about 55-60 mpg) a few years ago when a AAA service truck decided to make a U-turn in my face on a 2-lane road. It was not a fair contest.

Here are some more shots, the grey one half the way down looks good.
http://cleantechnica.com/2016/02/17/new-hydrogen-fuel-cell-ev-floats-like-a-butterfly-in-wales/

300 miles and 60 mph max don't sit well together.
On the other hand, if you only want this for town use, I suppose you only have to refuel every week or so (which would be very nice).
It would be interesting what a LiIon battery version would be like. I would expect shorter range, but easier charging, which could be OK.
At least it looks OK (Not like a Riva).
@sd, if you need to go 70 mph, this id not for you.
Get a golf (diesel?) or a prius.

@Davemart, "sub 4 second 0-60 times are irrelevant" for 99.99% of the population.

"I still don't really believe the 2 seat design, and I reckon that something with around 20kw of power from the stack and 4 seats with a 3 kg tank might be the sweet spot."

Well there you have it - 2 seat or 4 seat and 1.5x the size etc. Your spec seems right to me (and much more practical), but it might be too expensive. This is a marketing problem - engineers could build either machine: the marketeers have to decide which is best for the market. (Build a 747 or Concorde). Sometimes clarity only comes with hindsight.

Today people drive an petrol guzzling suv for one occupant in most cases.this vehicle is like a dream.It can save the world from pollution and saudi inspired terrorism

@mahonj

I really need to be capable of going 80 mph and would rather have a Volt. But I also need all wheel drive and serious off-road capability (Subarus and their ilk need not apply) What I really need is a Volt version of a 4WD pickup or maybe a more economical version of an Ariel Nomad. Have you ever driven where you needed to chain-up all four?

A light car with FC and batteries that does 70 mph could sell. Making it light and safe is a challenge, but may be possible. The price would be important as well. The idea of a PFCHEV has merit IMO.

@Sd I have never driven "chained up" or wearing any type of bandage gear.. I live in Ireland where we have a temperate climate with little snow or ice.
However, If I had to deal with such low friction surfaces, I would want a 4wd alright.

This kind of car would be very good in polluted cities, especially if they replaced diesels.

Like many 'snow birds' we drive south (3,000 Km total 10,000 Km) every winter, through 10+ US States and we very rarely drive over 70-72 mph, except for passing.

The speeders (80+ mph) are mostly near major cities during rush hours. They can use the left lane. They don't bother us.

An FCEV small 2-seater capable of 70 mph with a 300+ range would be very suitable in all 50 States and Canada.

The crowded freeways of southern California could use something like this. They are opening more hydrogen fueling stations, with a 40 mile battery range, most could be done with home charging, making refueling less often.

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