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Motoring

Groundbreaking hydrogen-powered car to be displayed at London Motor Show

The Riversimple RASA is a lightweight and highly efficient 'network' electric car powered by innovative hydrogen fuel cell technology. The first road-legal, engineering prototype will be on display at the London Motor Show in the Evolution Centre

An innovative two-seater hydrogen cell powered car, developed and built in Wales, will be displayed at the new London Motor Show to be staged in Battersea Park from May 5th to 8th.

The Riversimple RASA is a lightweight and highly efficient ‘network’ electric car powered by innovative hydrogen fuel cell technology and the first road-legal, engineering prototype will be on display at the London Motor Show in the Evolution Centre.

Riversimple says its purpose is “to pursue, systematically, the elimination of the environmental impact of personal transport.”

Every aspect of the RASA has been “created and interrogated for simplicity, efficiency, lightness, strength, affordability, safety and sustainability” say the makers. And the name RASA is a nod to that blank sheet of paper – Tabula Rasa means ‘Clean slate’ in Latin.

This first car is a two seater ‘network electric’ car, powered by a hydrogen fuel cell. The engineering prototype has clocked over 60mph and has been weaving through the traffic in London, as well as gliding down the country lanes of Powys.

The chassis is a carbon fibre monocoque that weighs less than 40kg – indeed, the engineering prototype car weighs just 580 kg.

There are four electric motors, one in each wheel, and the motors act as brakes – recovering over 50 per cent of kinetic energy when braking. Super-capacitors store this energy and provide most of the power for acceleration.

Riversimple explains: “It is the synthesis of all these technologies that delivers the groundbreaking efficiency and range, many times better than inserting fuel cells into conventional, heavy, vehicles,”

The production prototype should do around 250 mpg, with a range of 300 miles. Emissions are zero at the tailpipe and about 40gCO2/km Well-to-Wheel – even if the hydrogen comes from natural gas.

The hydrogen passes through a Proton Exchange Membrane in the fuel cell where it combines with oxygen to form water and electricity. The electricity then flows to the motors in each wheel. These motors are small, lightweight and give the car 4-wheel drive.

When the car brakes, the kinetic energy that is normally lost in the form of heat, is captured as electricity. As the car slows, this electricity floods into a bank of super-capacitors at the front of the vehicle. Unlike a battery, these super-capacitors can take a huge charge very quickly, but they don’t store a lot of energy. The energy they take in is sent back to the motors again and provides the energy to accelerate.

Every aspect of the RASA has been “created and interrogated for simplicity, efficiency, lightness, strength, affordability, safety and sustainability,” say the makers
Every aspect of the RASA has been “created and interrogated for simplicity, efficiency, lightness, strength, affordability, safety and sustainability,” say the makers

The production prototype is designed by Chris Reitz, former design chief for the Fiat 500, and his team at their studio in Barcelona. With further funding, 20 cars will be ready for Beta test with customers later this year.

The London Motor Show offers visitors the opportunity to see a wide range of cars – from city runarounds through to high-performance supercars. Visitors can also road test the car of their choice, as well as buying it on the spot.

A variety of other outside demonstrations will also be staged, including road safety initiatives which are designed to save lives and prevent accidents.



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