The Riversimple fuel cell car unveiled in London today breaks a lot of the rules for what we expect a hydrogen vehicle to be. First, it's not trying to be a replacement for a regular car (see: these SUVs or this truck). Instead, it's very small and only seats two. Second, the usual proprietary secrets that go into designing and building the fuel cell have been replaced with an open source model, with all the designs and information due to be placed online for free. Third, and most dramatically, this car is cheap.
According to Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies, the company that developed the fuel cell used in the Riversimple, "This innovative car could be made available to consumers for just 200 pounds Sterling ($315) per month." Compare this to the lease or purchase prices of other advanced technology vehicles. The MINI E, for example, costs $850 a month for a year. The Honda FCX Clarity is $600 a month for three years. Sure, these are very different vehicles and, in the case of the MINI E, different technologies, but a lot of people shop with their wallets, and $315 beats $850 easily. When we first learned about the car last week, we heard that the lease period is a reported 20 years, so that would certainly take the bloom off the rose a bit.
Riversimple plans to start leasing the car by 2013. It has a 240-mile range on a full charge of its small 1 kg hydrogen tank and can go up to 50 mph thanks to ultracapacitors and a 6 kW fuel cell. The company says it has "an efficiency equivalent to 300 miles to the gallon." Look for 10 prototype vehicles to hit the U.K. sometime next year. Of course, thanks to the open source model, if you want to DIY this one, you might be able to beat that timeline. There's a full press release and video of the car after the jump. Thanks to everyone who sent this in!