• Jun 14th 2010 at 10:16AM
  • 12
Riversimple hydrogen fuel cell car – Click above for high-res image gallery

The city of Leicester will kick off the UK's largest on-road test of hydrogen vehicles in 2012. At a whopping 30 vehicles, largest is certainly still small in relative terms, but it's a start. The H2 cars, provided by Riversimple, have a top speed of 50 miles per hour, a range of 200 miles and will be leased to a group of hand-picked lessees for the bargain basement price of just $292 U.S. a month (at current exchange rates), plus an additional mileage fee to cover refueling costs. Lessees will have access to at least one purpose-built refueling station in the city of Leicester and could openly venture out in a desperate search for more, like maybe a station built as part of the UK-Hynet project.

Chris Huhne, the UK's climate change secretary and strong supporter of alternative energy vehicles, spoke of the importance of the Riversimple hydrogen trials by offering up these words:
We need to harness cutting-edge technology to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels to tackle climate change. Nowhere is this more important than with passenger cars, which are responsible for almost 60 per cent of domestic transport emissions. A radical transformation of our transport network is needed in the next 40 years.
Obviously, Huhne would like to see more alternative energy vehicles on the roads and hopefully the Riversimple hydrogen trial in Leicester is just a stepping stone towards bigger and better things to come.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Months Ago
      A $300 lease isn't "bargain basement price" if its 20 years long. A Model S is a better deal than this and it even has better range.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Hmm, sounds like Riversimple is doing a "Beta Test". Say, have they done crash testing? Or is that going to be part of this "on-road test"?
        • 8 Months Ago
        The lease is for a short time, only 12 months, because this is just a test, not a commercial product release.

        "The 12 month pilot in Leicester, which will be underway by spring 2012, hopes to attract both individuals and organisations to test drive 30 of the two-seater vehicles. Riversimple also plans to site and operate a refuelling point as well."

        Viewed in that light, it's not a bad way to introduce people to FCVs without any large investment on the drivers' part. And Riversimple gets the technical data and public awareness that they are looking for, as well as customers for their H2 station.
        • 8 Months Ago
        If thats all Riversimple can come up with to get customer interest in their product then that speaks volumes about the company and their prospects. These leases will most definitely not cover costs...they're just burning through investor money. It'll be interesting to see what happens to the cars when this company folds in a couple years.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Good use of money for a nation who's debt is worse than ours. And what do the Brits get for their investment into the beginning of a hydrogen infrastructure? "a top speed of 50 miles per hour, a range of 200 miles" Sounds like a good deal to me.
        • 8 Months Ago
        "Using homegrown electric power and driving with zero emissions at the tailpipe while building up new green powerplants to supply clean electrons. A transition to EV's doesn't' require new infrastructure."

        Something about these two sentences doesn't click.

        "...building up new green powerplants to supply clean electrons." OK, you're saying we need to build new infrastructure...

        "A transition to EV's doesn't' require new infrastructure." Wait a minute, in your last sentence you just said we'd build new power plants.

        Pretty sure new power plants, new transmission wires, new electrical substations, new charging points (at home, at parking spaces, and at central quick-charge stations) all qualify as new infrastructure.


        At the very least, they could use fuel cells to provide the electricity for BEVs at a lower financial investment cost, while also reducing overall GHG production.

        "If 6000 currently available 400 kWe fuel cell combined heat and power (CHP) units were installed over the next five years, it would reduce CO2 emissions by as much as the proposed Severn Barrage at three times lower capital investment costs. And if 5.6 million homes installed microCHP fuel cell systems by 2020, the savings in CO2 emissions would be equivalent to eight new 750 MW combined cycle gas turbine power stations."


        I'm happy that the UK is spending money towards the electrification of the automobile, and I'm also pleased that they are investing in both FCVs and BEVs. Both technologies will be needed to achieve the emissions goals that have been set, and both technologies have the potential to be entirely 100% clean.
        • 8 Months Ago
        And waging fake wars and pissing away trillions upon trillions, overthrowing governments, and having huge oil spills like BP is having is a better use of the money?

        It took 100 years to refine the car to where it is now...and frankly a mere 25 years ago, cars were complete pieces of crap. So where do you get this silly expectation that all new concepts need to be 100% refined and workable the minute they come out?

        • 8 Months Ago
        Well, LTAW, they could run their EVs with the existing power supplies, even if they aren't very green. But if they do want to "green up" their power supplies, they can add green power sources to the existing grid, they don't have to build a special power grid just for green power only!

        The problem with using fuel cells for grid power is the need for fuel, and that usually means fossil fuels like natural gas. Granted, it is more efficient than old fossil fuel power plants, especially if used in a solid oxide fuel cell that can run directly on natural gas, without a reformer, but it is also more expensive - and the latest H cycle gas turbine generators can match, or even beat, fuel cell efficiency (H cycle at 60%, solid oxide direct at 60%, natural gas reforming and PEM fuel cell at 42%)

        The riversimple car is basically a tiny underpowered overpriced NEV class vehicle running on a much more expensive fuel. I can't see it appealing to anyone except a few H2 fanatics. Maybe that's why there will only be 30 prototypes (or maybe that's all they can afford to subsidize). . A 200 mile range may sound nice, but who would want to drive it for 4 hours? With limited refueling options, they still couldn't travel more than 100 miles from home.
        • 8 Months Ago
        I didn't say oil was any better but at least there is a current infrastructure. For the record the first fuel cell was demonstrated by Welsh scientist Sir William Robert Grove in the February 1839 so it's not some revolutionary new technology that people are keeping in the dark. it's taken the Car 100 years to get where it is now but it's taken the fuel cell 170 years to get where it is now.

        IMHO electrics and EREV's are where governments should be incentivising. Using homegrown electric power and driving with zero emissions at the tailpipe while building up new green powerplants to supply clean electrons. A transition to EV's doesn't' require new infrastructure. Cars like the Volt can be utilized by everyone today and the more people buy them the more private enterprise will set up charging stations when they realize they can make a buck doing it.
      • 8 Months Ago
      The Riversimple is a great little car concept. It's obviously not meant for the A roads, but for getting around on secondary roads and inside urban centers. The extensive use of carbon fibre is remarkable.

      The car company concept is also interesting - the car design is open-source so that any engineer or designer can contribute improvements to the design, and the company encourages the creation a good bit of local variation to suit local markets

      I'm sure we can all be happy that they have provided CO2 numbers for ease of comparison:

      "If the cell is produced by burning natural gas, it creates the equivalent of 31g of CO2 for every kilometre.

      If the gas is produced from a renewable source, that figure drops to 3g CO2/km. Its nearest petrol and diesel rivals emit 104g CO2/km and 103g CO2/km."
        • 8 Months Ago
        Open source? Then I suspect that it was designed by committee, on a limited budget, and they haven't actually done any crash testing or other safety testing. Maybe that is another reason they decided to limit the speed, for safety! And, of course, it really doesn't have the power to go any faster.

        But never mind little things like safety and performance. It's Open Source! The plans are free! You can build your own! Even make modifications! Like maybe throwing out the dinky fuel cell and expensive H2 storage, using more powerful batteries, and maybe even add a decent range extender. Or even better, make it big enough to avoid claustrophobia!

        On second thought, there are better kit cars available, if I ever got the urge to "roll my own".
        • 8 Months Ago
        More info re: the pricing per mile:

        "Riversimple says that the vehicle will not go on sale to customers, but will cost around £200 a month plus 15p per mile including fuel, in a deal rather like a mobile phone contract."

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