Rasa: Riversimple's Hydrogen-Powered City Car Arrives In The U.K.

Feb 17, 2016 02:16 PM EST | John Nassivera

Welsh transportation company Riversimple has unveiled an electric city car that runs solely on hydrogen fuel cells.

The vehicle, dubbed the Rasa, comes with a pressurized tank that contains gas so that it dissipates upwards if there is a crash, which its creators claim makes it safer than other conventional petrol cars, according to the Daily Mail. The tank is positioned away from the engine and is strong enough to deal with crashes, and its makers added that even if the tank does leak in a crash, its design keeps gas from "pooling" under the vehicle.

The two-seated vehicle can travel 300 miles on a single 1.5kg tank, which was previously used to give Zeppelins their lift until the Hindenburg disaster in 1937.

The Rasa, weighing 580kg, uses an 8.5kW hydrogen fuel cell that is lifted from a forklift truck and produces 11 horsepower, Auto Express reported. Lightweight materials and advanced aerodynamics allow the car to achieve a drag co-efficiency of just 0.224cd, which is lower than any production car currently on sale.

Additional features include a carbon composite chassis and fibre-glass body panels, as well as in-wheel electric motors and a bank of supercapacitors charged by braking-generation, which allows the Rasa to recover more than 50 percent of the kinetic energy produced and use it to boost acceleration, Gizmag noted.

Riversimple also claims that the early Rasa prototypes can go from 0-60 mph in 10 seconds, adding that the car has a top speed of 60 mph.

The company received a $2.85 million grant from the Welsh government for the Rasa, and they will use matched funding from a $2.22 million European Union endowment to run a 12-month public trial with 20 prototypes on U.K. roads, according to Auto Express. Riversample plans on launching the full production version of the vehicle in 2018.

However, the Rasa will only be available for leases or a fixed monthly fee that will cover all costs, such as maintenance, repairs, insurance and fuel expenses, Gizmag reported. Riversimple claims that this will make it easier for owners to afford the vehicle.

"The Rasa gives us the opportunity to introduce customers to a more convenient concept of motoring, a lightness of ownership that neither places a burden on the pockets of motorists or the surrounding environment," Riversimple founder Hugo Spowers said. "The car is simple, light and fun in every aspect."

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