A tiny Welsh start-up is taking on the giants of the automotive industry with its hydrogen fuel cell car, Rasa
A British car maker has unveiled a new hydrogen-powered prototype vehicle that is not only eco-friendly but also surprisingly affordable.
The two-seater Rasa, made by Welsh car maker Riversimple Movement, runs on electricity generated by a hydrogen fuel cell, and gives the equivalent of 250 miles to the gallon.
Weighing 580kg – about the half the weight of a small petrol or diesel car – it can reach its top speed of 60mph in ten seconds.
The car works by passing hydrogen through the fuel cell, where it combines with oxygen to form water and electricity to drive motors positioned in each of the four wheels.
Riversimple Hydrogen concept car has been styled by Chris Reitz, one of Europe’s leading car designers
It has a range of 300 miles on 1.5kg of hydrogen, and its only output is water.
There are no gears, just buttons for forward, neutral or reverse, plus an accelerator pedal and brake.
The Rasa, which received a £2m Welsh grant in 2015, will go on trial for 12 months later this year, with the final model set for release in 2018.
The first hand-built models of the Rasa will each cost £100,000 to build.
However, the car will not be sold but offered under a leasing agreement – with repairs, maintenance, insurance and fuel expenses covered by a fixed monthly fee of about £500.
Riversimple claims this is equivalent to the cost of leasing and running a new family-sized hatchback.
At the end of the ownership period the user will simply exchange or return it – thereby avoiding the burden of depreciation.
Riversimple founder Hugo Spowers said the vehicle was “simple, light and fun in every respect”.
“The Rasa gives us the opportunity to introduce customers to a more convenient concept of motoring, a lightness of ownership that neither places a burden on the pockets of motorists or the surrounding environment,” he said.
The Rasa will go up against hydrogen cars from more established car makers, like the £66,000 Toyota Mirai, which launched at the end of 2014.