Automotive

Riversimple launches Rasa, a hydrogen-powered city car for the masses

The Rasa on the road during tests
The Rasa on the road during tests
View 15 Images
The Rasa fuel cell vehicle has a monocoque chassis created from carbon fiber
1/15
The Rasa fuel cell vehicle has a monocoque chassis created from carbon fiber
Safety and rigidity are claimed to be high on the list for Rasa's construction
2/15
Safety and rigidity are claimed to be high on the list for Rasa's construction
A view of some of the electronics in the Rasa
3/15
A view of some of the electronics in the Rasa
The Rasa has an aerodynamic body and projector headlights
4/15
The Rasa has an aerodynamic body and projector headlights
Gullwing doors are an interesting feature of the Rasa
5/15
Gullwing doors are an interesting feature of the Rasa
The interior of the vehicle is simple and uncluttered
6/15
The interior of the vehicle is simple and uncluttered
The Rasa sports a binnacle on the dash to house all of the instruments
7/15
The Rasa sports a binnacle on the dash to house all of the instruments
LED tail lights and a vented hatch are the distinctive features at the rear of the vehicle
8/15
LED tail lights and a vented hatch are the distinctive features at the rear of the vehicle
LED tail lights and a vented hatch are the distinctive features at the rear of the vehicle
9/15
LED tail lights and a vented hatch are the distinctive features at the rear of the vehicle
The Rasa has faired rear wheels for extra aerodynamic performance
10/15
The Rasa has faired rear wheels for extra aerodynamic performance
The short cabin gives the Rasa a bubble-shaped appearance
11/15
The short cabin gives the Rasa a bubble-shaped appearance
The Rasa on the road during tests
12/15
The Rasa on the road during tests
The Rasa's performance characteristics would make it an ideal town car
13/15
The Rasa's performance characteristics would make it an ideal town car
A road-legal two-seater hydrogen fuel cell prototype, the Rasa by Riversimple Movement Ltd UK has been designed to be light, fuel efficient, and safe with a view to full production by 2018
14/15
A road-legal two-seater hydrogen fuel cell prototype, the Rasa by Riversimple Movement Ltd UK has been designed to be light, fuel efficient, and safe with a view to full production by 2018
Hugo Spowers, Founder of Riversimple Movement Ltd
15/15
Hugo Spowers, Founder of Riversimple Movement Ltd

A new hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicle prototype has been launched with a claimed fuel economy equivalent to 250 mpg (0.9 L/100km). Dubbed "Rasa," the new car has a lightweight carbon-fiber monocoque shell, in-wheel electric motors, a bank of supercapacitors charged by braking-regeneration, and a host of other features that enable it to travel up to a claimed 300 miles (483 km) on just a 3.3 lb (1.5 kg) tank of hydrogen.

A road-legal two-seater engineering prototype, the Rasa by Riversimple Movement Ltd UK has been designed from scratch to meet the company's brief of lightness, strength, affordability and safety, as well the maximization of fuel economy and minimization of pollution. Given that the pollution emitted by the Rasa is just 40 gCO2/km "well-to-wheel", even if the hydrogen is sourced from natural gas, and that water is the only substance to come out of the tailpipe, the company is claiming the lowest carbon emissions for any vehicle thus far produced.

Being built for full European type approval, the development of the Rasa was supported by a £2 million (US$2.85 million) grant from the Welsh government. Beginning this year, using matched funding from a €2 million (US$2.22 million) European Union endowment, the company will be running a public 12-month trial of a fleet of 20 Rasa prototypes. It is expected that the outcome of this on-going development will result in the launch of a full production model to market sometime in 2018.

The Rasa has an aerodynamic body and projector headlights
The Rasa has an aerodynamic body and projector headlights

"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."

With headquarters in Llandrindod Wells in Wales, and a design studio in Barcelona, Spain, Riversimple was born of the SWARM (Small 4-Wheel fuel cell passenger vehicle Applications in Regional and Municipal transport) consortium project that aims to build on and expand existing hydrogen refueling infrastructure across Europe, and collaborates to produce vehicles specifically designed to use these hydrogen stations.

Taking the shape of a relatively low-slung two-seat hatchback, the Rasa has an interesting exterior design, with faired rear wheels, a cluster of projection headlamps up front, a vented hatch at the rear, and upward-swinging gull-wing doors. The interior appears to be a rather uncluttered affair, and provides a pod-style instrument binnacle, a simple dash layout, and a minimalist, but attractive finish. On the performance side, the company says that the car will be "light to handle, responsive, and fun to drive" with acceleration to 55 mph (89 km/h) in around nine seconds and a maximum speed topping out at around 60 mph (96 km/h).

Safety and rigidity are claimed to be high on the list for Rasa's construction
Safety and rigidity are claimed to be high on the list for Rasa's construction

With a total kerb weight of just 580 kg (1,278 lb), and an 8.5 kW (11.4 hp) fuel cell to power the motors contained in each of the four wheels, the Rasa also recovers more than 50 percent of the kinetic energy produced under braking and stores this in a bank of super-capacitors which it then uses to boost acceleration. Not quite in the performance league of such promised hydrogen fuel cell vehicles as the Audi h-tron or the Honda Clarity, the exceptionally light weight of the Rasa and its resulting handling characteristics, however, should still make it a fun little car to drive around town.

Styled by Chris Reitz (a relative of Wolfgang Porsche and former design director at Alfa Romeo), the company claims that the Rasa has been designed and built with input from a highly-skilled in-house team whose experience ranges from Formula 1 to aerospace engineering.

All going well, when the vehicle is finally offered for sale at some stage in 2018, the company intends to offer the Rasa through a "sale of service" scheme where, 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."

The video below shows the "Alpha" road test of the vehicle, prior to its exterior panels being fitted.

Sources: Riversimple, SWARM

Riversimple hydrogen Alpha car test

31 comments
Derek Howe
Really......Back to the Future music.... I guess it's fitting, cause this ugly thing belongs in the past.
CAVUMark
Stretch it a little more and send one to me to test in San Diego.
BeWalt
Derek Howe - Completely agree. What a pointless, ugly, almost unusable and definitely non-practical, complexity-overburdened brand new museum's piece. Waiting to 2018 to get one of these will get me...what? There are no numbers here, but I'm not holding my breath to see any kind of a business case that a serious investor would put money behind. Nice engineering project still, passing grades for all of that.
Slowburn
If they want to get the hydrogen economy going they need to make a conversion kit for real cars on the market.
PeterMortensene7877c8e180f4d2a
The list of failed green car startups go on and on and the reason for failure is the same: 1. The car is made to be maximally green. 2. Everything else is crap: acceleration, interior space, ease of use, design, safety, convenience of charging/fueling, serviceability, fit and finish and overall coolness. Surely lots of us would choose a greener car if we didn't have to sacrifice everything else, but very few would buy a green car just because it's green. And even if a car is priced for the masses doesn't mean it's actually for the masses. Electricity is available in the home of people while hydrogen stations are almost nowhere to be found. Range anxiety is not just a matter of the raw numbers of range but far more about how charging/fueling is available. And for those of you hydrogen fans, never forget that a hydrogen powered car is nothing much more than an EV with smaller battery but a hydrogen tank and fuel cells added. And also remember that when you produce and compress hydrogen, there is a significant energy efficiency loss. It takes approx. 10,000 liters of hydrogen gas at atmospheric pressure to generate the energy of one gallon of gas. And also the fuel cells are not all that efficient. This particular car is efficient not because of using hydrogen but because it's designed aerodynamically with low mass and regenerative braking. There is no reason why an EV or even a gas powered car could have those exact same benefits. In fact, this same car using pure electricity would be more efficient.
sutski123
"Styled by Chris Reitz" haahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha And it's 10mph too slow for motorway use. I wouldn't drive this as a daily drive if it was given to me for free. Possibly the worst designed, worst looking piece of automotive engineering since the Sinclair C5. In fact this kind of reminds me of the C5. i.e Too small, too slow and it was designed for a niche segment that doesn't exist. If it's more than £100 a month all in, forget it.
TonyHanscomb
Good idea but unfortunately its going to fail with such an UGLY design. Why did they not make it look good? would have be soooo easy to make it look something like a Lotus Elise perhaps. Shame! Who the hell designed that? SSangYong perhaps or maybe a 5 year old kid?
Shohreh
> should still make it a fun little car to drive around town. A bicycle is a lot of fun, too. And it's actually faster (traffic, time lost getting to the car + finding a parking spot at the end), muuuuuuuuuch cheaper, and better for your health.
DFrancis
Specification suitable for a clean, affordable city car. About as practical as a smart fortwo, but with much greater eco credentials. As for the styling: when I first saw the photo there were certain design elements reminiscent of the Honda Insight - and of extremely aerodynammic concept cars that never made it to production. Is it ugly? That's a subjective issue, and imho there are worse looking cars on the road.
silvaze1976@gmail.com
Isn't the fuel tank placed like the Ford Pinto? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Pinto#Fuel_tank_controversy