Riversimple has had a busy year so far, what with the launch of its hydrogen-powered Rasa city car, showing it off at the London Motor Show and unveiling two new concept designs. Now, the Welsh carmaker has announced the first UK trial of its innovative automobiles.
The trial, run in partnership with Monmouthshire County Council in southeast Wales, will be carried out over the course of 12 months. The Rasa itself will be used, with 20 brand-new models to be driven by 60-80 Monmouthshire residents over the course of three or six-month contracts.
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The Rasa will not be available to buy when it is launched in 2018, but instead customers will be able to enjoy the car by paying a monthly fee that covers fuel, maintenance, repairs and insurance. This type of plan, says Riversimple, will eliminate built-in vehicle obsolescence and make sustainability a competitive advantage, rather than a cost.
The carmaker believes the Rasa is the most efficient road-going car in the world. It describes the short distance between towns in Monmouthshire as "ideal" for testing the Rasa, which is designed for local non-motorway use and has a range of 300 mi (483 km).
Riversimple says the trial is the start of its plans to create hydrogen infrastructure across the UK to help encourage the roll-out of hydrogen vehicles where refueling stations are built. As part of the trial, a self-service, mobile refueling point is planned for the town of Abergavenny or Monmouth. The firm also says it will cover the running costs of the cars during the trial, will offer customer relations to participants, and will also build a temporary "experience center."
The trial is due to begin in early 2017, with the first commercially available Riversimple cars — like the Rasa — expected in 2018, and the development of its concept cars following thereafter. Over the next 20 years it hopes to build a "distributed network of manufacturing plants" that will create jobs and help regenerate communities.
The video below explains Riversimple's unconventional approach to the auto business.