Riversimple is a start-up car company based in Wales. It has just begun testing 20 prototypes of its new Rasa fuel cell commuter cars. The lightweight cars are manufactured from carbon fiber, have 4 in-wheel electric motors. They feature a rear hatchback for easy access to the interior and gullwing doors for both passengers. It uses supercapitors to recapture kinetic energy under braking. The company says its system is 50% efficient, which has to be a world record for regenerative braking.
The Rasa can drive up to 300 miles on just one 3.3 pound tank of hydrogen. That’s equivalent to about 250 miles per gallon in the very generous UKI test cycle when compared to a conventional car with a gasoline engine.
The two-seater prototypes have been designed for maximum lightness, strength, affordability and safety. Its well to wheel carbon emissions of just 40 grams per kilometer make it one of the cleanest vehicles ever produced, according to the company. “The Rasa engineering prototype marks another key milestone in bringing an affordable and highly-efficient hydrogen powered car to market,” said Hugo Spowers, Founder of Riversimple Movement Ltd. “We really have started from a clean sheet of paper.”
The Rasa weighs just 1,278 lb and is powered by an 8.5 kW (11.4 hp) fuel cell. It can get to 55 mph in under 9 seconds and has a top speed of 60 mph. If those numbers are a bit underwhelming, especially compared to a new Tesla Model S P90D, keep in mind the Rasa is intended to be a highly efficient commuter vehicle, not a drag strip champion. It was styled in Spain by Chris Reitz,a relative of Wolfgang Porsche and former design director at Alfa Romeo. He was assisted by a team of engineers with Formula One and aerospace experience.
As innovative as the Rasa is, the marketing plan is even more adventurous. The company plans to offer it to customers on a “sale of service” basis. For a fixed monthly fee and distance allowance, the company will provide all repair, maintenance, insurance, and fuel costs. As a result, drivers will not own the car, but simply swap it for a new one or return it at the end of the use period. This approach, claims the company, will help reduce the financial burden of outright vehicle ownership for the average driver.
“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,” says Spowers. “The car is simple, light and fun in every respect.”
Will “sale of service” be a viable option for cars in the future? It is certainly an intriguing option. How odd would it be if a disruptive new marketing idea were to come from Wales, a country that has had little to brag about since the Roman legions left town.