Automakers are all rushing to see who can get to the promised land of offering a viable alternative to gasoline first. One such option that is up for debate is the hydrogen fuel cell. This system uses the energy created when hydrogen and oxygen combine to produce water to charge a battery, which in turn runs an electric motor. Today, a new manufacturer puts itself on the map in this alternative-fuel segment, and that it Riversimple with its Rasa prototype.
This prototype, which was built with the aid of a £2 million ($2.85 million) grant from the Welsh government, uses an 8.5 kW (11.4-horsepower) fuel cell to create its juice and deliver it to motors positioned at all four wheels. Riversimple did not reveal the output of these motors, but I can assure you they are not tuned for speed, as the Rasa tops out at just 60 mph.
On top of the fuel cell system, the Rasa uses regenerative braking to recapture energy. More than 50 percent of the energy created by braking heads to supercapacitors to help boost acceleration. All said, the Riversimple Rasa travels up to 300 miles on just 1.5 kg (3.31 pounds) of hydrogen, putting it at an astonishing 250 mpg-e. It’s no surprise that this tiny rig gets such great fuel economy, as its carbon-composite chassis and lightweight body check in at just 580 kg (1,279 pounds).
The Rasa will undergo a beta testing phase later in 2016, which will include 20 prototypes in the real world. Following successful testing, Riversimple seems on pace to have the Rasa in the market by 2018. There is no indication of when—or if—the Rasa will hit U.S. shores, but we do know that its rollout will be in stages to prevent cash-flow issues.
We’ll bring you more details as they become available, so stay tuned.