British Firm Unveils Prototype Hydrogen Car

A British firm has unveiled its prototype hydrogen car.

Riversimple, based in Powys, Wales, aims to take on the giants of the motor industry with the two-seater Rasa.

It is not planning to sell the vehicles but offer them on a subscription basis.

The company aims to launch a trial of 20 production cars by the end of 2016, making them publicly available in 2018.

Currently, only two hydrogen cars - the Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell and the Toyota Mirai - are on sale in the UK.

Riversimple founder Hugo Spowers, who used to work in motor racing, told Sky News: "There's an opportunity to really make a breakthrough, a step change for vehicle technology, not through advancing fuel cell technology itself, but by building cars in a completely different way."

The Rasa has been designed from the chassis up with a different architecture from existing cars.

It has a range of roughly 300 miles on 1.5kg of hydrogen, which is converted to the electricity, and it emits only warm air and water vapour.

"The hard bit has been convincing people that when you're going through a step change it is much lower risk to change everything at once," said Mr Spowers.

"People think it's the prudent thing to change one thing at a time but, as Lloyd George said, you can't cross a chasm in two leaps."

The competition among green cars has become increasingly fierce in recent years. Only two electric vehicles were sold in 2007, but last year the figure was 28,188.

Established auto manufacturers like Nissan and BMW, along with newer companies like Tesla, offer a range of models.

The market is dominated by battery electric vehicles, rather than hydrogen. At present there are just 14 hydrogen fuelling stations in the country, not all of which are available to the public.

Darren Moss, the deputy editor of Autocar, told Sky News that Riversimple faces "an uphill battle".

"As with all these things, it's a lack of infrastructure," he said.

"The Government has pledged to build 12 new fuelling stations, but if you think of how many petrol stations there are across the UK, it's a fraction of what's needed.

"It's taken electric cars almost two decades to get to this point, where we're only just seeing them commercially available and on the road. It’s going to take hydrogen technology a similar time to get to that stage.”