Nov 112011

Future Hydrogen Car

It’s the stuff of sci-fi thrillers – a jet black hydrogen car with wing-style lifting doors that runs on a hydrogen cell without producing any emissions save a few drops of water from its underused exhaust pipe. Except this is no futuristic fantasy, or at least it’s not far off release.

Produced by RiverSimple

Produced in South Shropshire by sustainable car company Riversimple, this sleek looking prototype has already generated a significant amount of interest from investors and the general public alike following an appearance at the London Science Museum recently. This week it also did the same at the Green Expo in Worcester, an event aimed at demonstrating to the general public how our lives can become more sustainable.

Only Two Seats

The two-seat RiverSimple Hydrogen Car, which weighs only 350kg in a bid to reduce the energy requirement to power it, has a maximum speed of only 50 miles per hour. But it ranks as one of the greenest cars on the planet right now given the only emissions it generates are those required to build it plus those to produce the hydrogen. It would have a range of 200 miles per tank of hydrogen. The vehicle is being redesigned by a group of engineers led by the head of the team that came up with the Fiat 500.

Riversimple Hydrogen Car

Riversimple Hydrogen Car

Road Test before Production

And it may not be that far away from full-scale production. In 2012 and 2013, 30 of the vehicles are set to be road tested in Hertfordshire and Shropshire, the home county of Riversimple founder Hugo Spowers. The month-long trials will be conducted by members of the general public and businesses with refueling points to be set up at strategically placed locations in both counties. Should these trials be successful Riversimple plans to produce the vehicle for general consumption, a move that could prove to be a major stepping stone towards true zero-emission vehicles.

Monthly Charging System

It is not just the vehicle itself that is radical but also the way in which Riversimple plans to distribute it. Buyers would not own the hydrogen car outright but would instead set up a contract using a monthly charging system similar to that which we have for mobile phones. This would work out at about £250 with a mileage fee on top. Another novel feature is that customers would then give feedback to Riversimple in a bid to improve the vehicle and the experience of the driver overall.

Success is dependent on Future Fundraising

Part of whether or not the vehicle will ultimately be successful is likely to be due to that age-old problem – money. So far the principal backer of the project is the family of a member of the Porsche dynasty Ernst Piech who is also supporting Riversimple in a second round of fundraising which is aiming to reach £20 million to bankroll the next stage of development as the vehicle looks towards production.

That is going to be a while yet, even if all does go according to plan. Nevertheless, the potential impact of this project should not be underestimated. Put simply, this vehicle could really be the future of motoring.

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