Riversimple Rasa hydrogen fuel cell car 3

Hydrogen-powered vehicles are now available to the public with the introduction of the Toyota Mirai and Honda Clarity Fuel Cell. With other manufacturers like BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi looking to introduce their own vehicles as well, a Welsh-based manufacturer has gone ahead of them and revealed its offering, the Riversimple Rasa.

Never heard of Riversimple? Here’s a little background info. The company was founded in 2001, where it was initially known as OScar Automotive. Headquartered in Llandrindod Wells in Wales, the company embarked on venture with the Morgan Motor Company to create its first hydrogen fuel cell car, funded by a two million pound grant (RM12 million) from the Welsh government in 2015.

The fruit of this labour is the Rasa, a two-seater road car that is completely road-legal, and built for full European type approval. Designed by Chris Reitz, the car has been engineered to feature a carbon composite chassis, and has a total kerb weight of just 580 kg.

The hydrogen-fuelled powertrain itself is said to contain only 18 moving parts, and consists of a small 8.5 kW fuel cell (equivalent to 11 hp), where hydrogen and water combine to produce electricity and water. The electricity is then used to drive the motors in each of the four wheels up to a top speed of 97 km/h.

With just 1.5 kg of hydrogen in its tanks, the Rasa has a range of up to 482 km and an estimated fuel economy equivalent to 88.5 km/L. To supplement the fuel cell, 50% of the kinetic energy produced under braking is recovered and turned into electricity to boost acceleration (0-100 km/h in 10 seconds) via a bank of super-capacitors.

As impressive as it may appear, the project is still in its development stages. Riversimple plans on conducting a 12-month test trial this year with 20 Rasa prototype cars being offered to motorists via a “sale of service” model. Customers will never actually buy the car, but instead lease it, with the burden of keeping the car running falling on the company instead. The first full production model is expected to come to market in 2018. Sayang?