When the Rasa hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicle prototype was launched earlier this year, its unconventional styling was, for some, an acquired taste. At this weekend's London Motor Show Riversimple outlined the potential for an expanded range by showing two new concept designs based on the existing chassis and running gear: a four-door sedan and a light commercial vehicle.
The original Rasa vehicle was on display alongside the new designs to showcase the technology and to attract investors. Born of the SWARM (Small 4-Wheel fuel cell passenger vehicle Applications in Regional and Municipal transport) consortium project that plans to expand existing hydrogen refueling infrastructure across Europe, Rasa's creators ardently believe that they and other industries underpinning hydrogen-based vehicle networks will enable significant uptake of this technology.
"Over a twenty-tear period, this approach will create thousands of new jobs and forge new revenue streams," said Riversimple founder Hugo Spowers. "Our circular business model aligns profitability with sustainability and has the potential to change the market dynamics in this resource-intensive industry."
In an attempt to augment the simple hatchback design of the original model, the two new preliminary designs that may eventually expand Riversimple's model range are aimed at opposite ends of the spectrum, with a somewhat more conventional four-door sedan and a city-based light commercial van.
Staying with the Rasa's upward-opening doors (the designer, Chris Reitz, calls them "Butterfly wings") arrangement, the sleek aerodynamic design of the sedan has overtones of Porsche and Audi.
The van, on the other hand, looks like it came straight out of Blade Runner, with its angled lines and purposeful stance - though there still appears to be plenty of practicality in the large loading area out the back.
The Riversimple Rasa project was originally supported by a £2 million (US$2.85 million) grant from the Welsh government and a €2 million (US$2.22 million) European Union endowment. Now, the company has gone down the crowdfunding route to help bring the proposed new models to fruition. No details are available for when the concept vehicles may be developed, but investment information can be accessed via the link to Riversimple's website below.
Starting later this year, Riversimple will be conducting a public 12-month trial of 20 Rasa pre-production cars. Full production models are planned to go to market late in 2018.