Not only have they launched a prototype of their new urban hydrogen fuel call car, but Riversimple have essentially redefined how car companies of the future will operate.
I love Riversimple. I’ve been following them since last year when they launched their first prototype model developed with Morgan cars. This week they launched their new urban runabout vehicle at Somerset House in London. Perched beside the Thames, the new car silently rolled before the audience.
It’s body is made from carbon fibre, left charcoal-black and rough without the usual polished paint job. It’s bat-like doors swing upwards, leaving egg-shaped holes to access the interior of the car, which sports two tan-coloured leather bucket seats. Beneath the bonnet lies the hydrogen fuel cell; much smaller than I imagined, roughly about the size of a briefcase, the cell resembles a computer server with cooling fans and wires.
The hubs of the wheels protrude out a few inches like round black cake tins – these are the regenerative braking hubs I imagine. In order to supply the power for accelerating, the car uses “ultracapacitors”, which store large amounts of electric charge and, crucially, can release that charge nearly instantly to provide the power needed to accelerate from rest.
The new Riversimple car can go about 80km/hr (50mph) and has a range of 200miles.
Traditional car companies and the UK government project hydrogen fuel cell cars won’t be ready to come online until 2020. That’s because they’re locked in an outdated way of thinking.
Riversimple is planning to have the car available for production around 2013 and will release 10 prototypes in a UK city from next year.To get around the fact that there is currently no hydrogen infrastrucure in place, Riversimple has partnered with gas supply company BOC to install hydrogen stations for the cars in the city where the prototypes will be launched. In this way they will seed areas with the new urban cars, and as they become more popular, the recharging points can be expanded.
According to Hugo Spowers, “You can incrementally put in a template package of one re-fuellling point and 50 cars in different cities, and each city one by one can build an urban hydrogen infrastructure, and that incrementally builds a nationwide infrastructure.”