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An ultra low carbon, hydrogen fuelled car with carbon fibre monocoque

News International-French

12 Jun 2015

Riversimple Engineering – the green team behind the project – is building its production prototype in Llandrindod Wells where it has opened its R&D headquarters.

The £3.5m investment is backed by £2million research, development and innovation funding from the Welsh Government and Economy Minister Edwina Hart described it as an exciting project with great potential to deliver long term economic benefits to Wales.

If the vehicle design achieves certification and goes into volume production, manufacturing will in all probability be based in Wales, with the potential to create an additional 220 jobs assembling around 5000 cars annually. Locating the work in Wales is a condition of the funding unless it presents a commercial barrier.

The company is currently creating new highly skilled engineering jobs at its new R&D centre in Llandrindod Wells and has transferred ten jobs from its Ludlow office.

Riversimple’s overriding goal is mobility at zero cost to the planet and all their work is systematically focussed on that ultimate goal; The company is driven by the maxim that ‘Less unsustainable is still not sustainable’ and they aim to achieve this by minimising material usage, maximising service life and optimising energy usage, both in service and during manufacture.

The two seater local network electric car under development – and still under wraps – has a strong, light weight carbon fibre monocoque normally reserved for racing cars and high-end supercars.

It is powered by hydrogen fuel cells, with a regenerative braking system to recapture energy that will be stored in a bank of super-capacitors to provide most of the power for acceleration.

The aim is for groundbreaking energy efficiency equivalent of around 240 mpg with a range of 300 miles, 0-50mph in 8 secs and a top speed of around 55-60 mph.

The company also has a new business model and will retain lifetime ownership of the cars that will be leased and reused over a period of 15-20 years. Customers will pay a single monthly fee that covers everything – the car, the maintenance, the insurance and the fuel, removing the high cost of ownership.

Riversimple has already built a technology demonstrator vehicle which achieved the equivalent of 300mpg and emitted nothing more than a cupful of water in a normal day’s use.

The next stage now underway in Wales is a Mk2 version that integrates the system into a prototype car designed for full type approval. The production prototype will be a general working model to demonstrate the design and technical advances, when further design refinements will be incorporated for volume production.

Next year the company hopes to build twenty cars for a twelve month public trial, with future plans for volume production – at a location yet to be decided – that could create 220 jobs assembling 5000 cars a year.