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Welsh Start-Up Takes On Battery Power With Its Prototype Hydrogen Car


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Welsh Start-Up Takes On Battery Power With Its Prototype Hydrogen Car

With the support of a £2million grant from the Welsh government, Riversimple, a tiny start-up company based in Powys, Wales has built a hydrogen car with a claimed fuel economy of 0.9L/100 km (250 mpg).

The ‘Rasa’ will reach up to 96 km/h (60 mph) and has a range of 483 km (300 miles) on a 1.5 kg tank of hydrogen.

Riversimple is not planning to sell the vehicles but offer them on a subscription basis and, with a mission to produce 20 vehicles by the end of this year, the business is hoping to make them available to the general public by 2018.

With only two hydrogen cars currently available for purchase on the market - the Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell costing £53,000 and the Toyota Mirai costing £66,000, rather than being discouraged, Riversimple is encouraged that there is serious development in this field by major players.

After 15 years research, Riversimple founder Hugo Spowers described the car to Wales Online as 'simple, light and fun in every respect' and he said he was 'not nervous about launching the car.'

"I think I have been at it for too long to be nervous," said Spowers. "We’re all feeling rather full of beans at the moment. A lot of things are falling into place. The fact other people are doing hydrogen cars is good news for us."

The hydrogen model also has advantages over battery powered. The energy density of hydrogen under high pressure is much higher than you can store in batteries. A hydrogen tank and fuel cell will get you a lot further than a battery of the same size and weight.

In addition to that, some sustainability experts claim that if you were to convert the entire UK vehicle fleet to battery-powered, it will place a huge strain on the national grid. Increasing the grid capacity will take a long time and battery powered vehicles are already two decades in the making.

It goes without saying however, that the market for cleaner more efficient vehicles is dominated by battery electric vehicles at the moment and any new hydrogen vehicle will face the challenge of re-fuelling, with a distinct need for more hydrogen fuelling stations (only 14 at present – and not all available to the public).

The UK Government has pledged to establish 12 additional fuelling stations, soon, so watch this space.

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