Christopher Reitz, the former design chief at Fiat who headed the team responsible for the drawing up the adorable 500, has joined Riversimple, the UK-based company that unveiled its hydrogen fuel cell vehicle in July of 2009. Reitz' first task will be designing the company's hydrogen vehicles that are expected hit the streets of Leicester and one other yet-to-be named city in the UK in the summer of 2012.
Leaving a traditional automaker and joining one that's far from conventional is a move that Reitz believes he's timed just right, stating:
Hopefully, with the addition of Reitz, a design guru with years of experience in the automotive field , Riversimple's hydrogen car will be transformed into something that's a bit more pleasing to the eye. Hat tip to Roy!This really is a step into something different, to design cars that really are the future. Increasingly I have felt that it does not make much sense to move tons of steel around, using a lot of fuel and resources. There has to be a better way and I think Riversimple has found it, not only with its hydrogen fuel cell car but with the whole concept of the company which has as its goal complete sustainability.
Former Fiat design chief joins Riversimple, the UK hydrogen fuel-cell car company
Christopher Reitz, the top European car designer who headed the design team at Fiat - where he was responsible
for the Fiat 500 - and then Alfa Romeo, has joined Riversimple, the UK based company which is developing a
hydrogen fuel cell car.
It is one of the most high-profile moves away from the traditional automotive industry to sustainable transport and
Reitz, who left Alfa Romeo this spring, said: "This really is a step into something different, to design cars that
really are the future. Increasingly I have felt that it does not make much sense to move tons of steel around,
using a lot of fuel and resources. There has to be a better way and I think Riversimple has found it, not only
with its hydrogen fuel cell car but with the whole concept of the company which has as its goal complete
Riversimple are in the process of second-round financing. The major investor is currently the family of Ernst Piëch of
the Porsche family dynasty.
Reitz's first job will be to design the cars that will be seen on the streets of Leicester, and one other as yet un-named
UK region, when pilots get underway in the summer of 2012. In a ground-breaking deal with Leicester City Council,
Riversimple announced this summer that 30 cars would be test driven around Leicester for a year, with drivers
providing feeback on their experience.
Reitz, aged 42, said: "It has to look good as well as be functional. We don't want to shock because if you shock
you are very quickly old and out of fashion. We need to be robust, innovative and safe and getting the right
mixture will help produce a successful product. It is very exciting.'
Hugo Spowers, the Riversimple founder, said: "I am delighted that someone of Chris' calibre and standing in the
automotive world has decided to join Riversimple and help us to produce sustainable cars that will be the
envy of others. Chris has been responsible for some of the most beautiful and practical designs in the auto
industry in recent years. His experience and flair will be of great help to us as we move towards seeing
Riversimple cars on the streets and roads of the UK."
Riversimple plan to produce their cars in small factories near markets, to lease the cars rather than sell them, so that
"planned obsolescence" is no longer in the manufacturer's interest, to open-source the technology and to have the
customers, the suppliers and the environment represented in their company structure as well as shareholders.
Riversimple's prototype two-seater, which can do the equivalent of 300 mpg, is a centre-piece in the Science
Museum in London's new gallery "atmosphere...Exploring climate science" which opens to the public this Saturday