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Riversimple Rasa revealed

H2 no: This teaser image released earlier in the week had GoAuto excited that Riversimple was about to reveal a savage high-performance hydrogen hyper car, but it didn't.

Rasa turns out not to be monster Riversimple hydrogen supercar


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17 Feb 2016

A SINGLE teaser image released earlier this week by Welsh start-up green car-maker Riversimple, suggested the company was about to launch a pumped-up low-slung hydrogen supercar with potent performance and the looks to boot, but the Rasa turned out to be quite the opposite.

Instead of a vicious mid-engined monster with bitumen-busting acceleration, the Rasa is a bantamweight prototype town car with tyres that appear to be from the Tour De France and 8.5kW of power. Accelerating from zero to 100km/h is impossible with a top speed of 97km/h.

It is now clear that if you take a close-up shot of the Rasa's rear haunch, its ventilated C-pillar, angular panels and piercing tail-lights can give the appearance of a fun-focused sportscar.

Styling was handled by Australian-born former Alfa Romeo design director Chris Reitz, who was previously involved the Giulietta and Fiat 500 projects, and Nissan concept projects including the Qashqai, CrossBow and Micra C+C so it is unclear what happened with the Riversimple.

The Rasa does have a few supercar features however, with an all-wheel-drive transmission, two seats and head-turning butterfly-opening doors.

Look past the little car's skinny facade and the British-built eco-car features some accomplished engineering including a hydrogen fuel-cell powertrain, ultralight carbon-fibre construction and just 18 moving components in its drivetrain.

Weighing in at just 580kg the Rasa is seriously light allowing it to go further on less fuel. A full 1.5kg tank of hydrogen can propel the little green car about 480km, and regenerative braking from all four hub motors can recover as much as 50 per cent of its kinetic energy.

Metropolitan environments are where the Rasa is at home with only water vapour emitted from its drivetrain and easy manoeuvrability thanks to its diminutive proportions. Fuel economy is estimated at an almost unbelievable 1.1 litres per 100km.

While it is a zero-emissions car, the company says its construction carbon footprint is also the lowest of any vehicle with a “well-to-wheel” figure of 40g/km.

Twenty of the Rasas will be produced to take part in a one-year beta trial before a production model rolls out in 2018. The vehicles will not be sold, but leased through the company's “sale of service” model, which covers all running and maintenance costs for a fixed fee, similar to Hyundai's ix35 Fuel Cell deal in California and General Motors' lease plan for the GM EV1 electric car.

Riversimple Movement founder Hugo Spowers said the prototype demonstrates the feasibility of compact, light and zero-emissions vehicles.

“The Rasa engineering prototype marks another key milestone in bringing an affordable and highly-efficient hydrogen-powered car to market. We really have started from a clean sheet of paper,” he said.

“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. The car is simple, light and fun in every respect.”

The company was founded in 2001 and in 2008 Riversimple launched its first LifeCar in partnership with Morgan, followed by a technology demonstrator under the impossible to pronounce moniker “Hyrban”.

The Rasa is a valid insight into future mobility, but with Australia's almost non-existent hydrogen infrastructure and minimal demand for ultra-eco-friendly cars, the chances of the little car making it to the local market are about the same as its emissions – zero.

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