The ecological car firm Riversimple Movement employs 23 at an R&D centre in Llandrindod Wells, mid Wales and is currently crowd funding for their Rasa (Latin for clean slate) to match a €2m EU grant. The striking, gull-wing vehicle is capable of travelling 300 miles on a single tank of hydrogen, with 20 prototypes taking to the UK roads on a 12 month public trial in 2017 before the full production vehicle arrives late 2018. The Rasa is capable of 0-60mph in 10 seconds with a top speed of 60mph, and refuels in only three minutes.
Riversimple founder Hugo Spowers said: “The Welsh Government not only supported us with £2m towards the completion of the R & D and build of the Rasa, but continue to take an active interest in our future. Their commitment, interest and enthusiasm for what we are doing is very encouraging – we appreciate it hugely.”
Purpose designed from the ground up, with grant support and sustained collaborative assistance from the Welsh Government, and built with ‘ultimate vehicle efficiency’ in mind, the Rasa uses an 8.5kW hydrogen fuel cell rather than the 100+kW fuel cell used in other hydrogen vehicles. This cell is lifted from a forklift truck and generates 11bhp. With a carbon composite chassis and fibre-glass body panels, the Rasa weighs 580kg and is capable of 250mpge on the official urban cycle.
Riversimple is an amalgamation of talents from the worlds of motor racing, aerospace engineering, and automotive design, working between Wales and Barcelona to eliminate environmental impact and change the world by building a new form of business. Hugo Spowers added: “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.”
Styled by Chris Reitz, one of Europe’s leading car designers behind the retro Fiat 500, the Rasa’s lightweight materials and advanced aerodynamics enable it to achieve high levels of fuel efficiency. The slippery bodywork and curved underbody achieves a drag co-efficient of just 0.249 – and with low frontal area, lower drag than any production car on sale today. Instead of gears, the car features buttons for forward, neutral or reverse, plus an accelerator pedal and brake.
In a couple of years the full production car will be leased to owners for a monthly fee, with a fixed element and a mileage rate, covering all costs including repairs, maintenance, insurance and fuel expenses. Hugo continues: “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 ‘usership’ period.”
LCV is run by Cenex, the UK’s first centre of excellence for low carbon and fuel cell technologies. The event attracts the decision makers of the UK industry, including all major stakeholders, key manufacturers, supply chain representatives and government officials. Welsh Government will be there to showcase Wales’ strengths in the automotive and low carbon vehicles sector, and to promote Wales as a hotspot for investment in hydrogen. Substantial academic research into alternative fuels is also being undertaken in universities throughout Wales at the Low Carbon Research Institute.