Welsh eco-friendly carmaker Riversimple has launched a trial of its hydrogen-powered Rasa model in its home country.
The firm, which is currently crowdfunding to match a $2.2 million EU grant, will trial 20 of its cars in the Monmouthshire region across 12 months. The vehicles will be driven by 60-80 of the county’s residents.
In the future customers will not be able to buy the Rasa. Instead, they will lease its mileage, receiving maintenance, insurance and an almost-unlimited number of refills.
The Rasa is more a city car with a top speed of around 60mph. But Riversimple hopes its Welsh debut will be a momentous first step in the race to provide hydrogen-powered personal travel infrastructure, as European governments move to limit the number of petrol-powered vehicles on their roads.
Last week Germany became the first major country to set a deadline for the ban of gas-driven cars, mandating all vehicles to be electric by 2030. Norway and the Netherlands have opened talks on forbidding gas-powered cars by 2025.
Powys-headquartered firm Riversimple believes the Rasa, which has a range of 300 miles, refills in five minutes and has “no cost premium” compared to a conventional car, can corner the market.
“As a Welsh company, we are excited to launch the first U.K. trial in Wales,” said Riversimple founder Hugo Spours. “The Monmouth and Riversimple partnership can bring a momentous change in the way mobility is delivered in a sustainable way. This trial is a first for the UK and has global significance.”
The U.K. government predicts that there will be over 1.3 million fuel cell vehicles on roads by 2030 (the total number of cars on British roads is 31.7 million). McKinsey Global Institute claims the clean tech product market will reach £1 trillion ($1.4 trillion) by 2020.
The Rasa is believed to be the world’s most efficient ordinary road-going car with 40gCO2/km well to wheel, and no tailpipe emissions apart from water.
The car, which weighs just 580kg (the 2015 Mitsubishi Mirage, which Motortrend estimates to be the lightest car available in the U.S., weighs 930kg), has been 15 years in development and was designed by Chris Reitz, who also styled Fiat’s popular 500.