Riversimple to make fuel cell vehicles in Wales by 2023
The British start-up Riversimple has returned with production plans. The company announced that it would start series production of its Rasa fuel cell-powered small car in 2023 and a light delivery van for the last mile from 2024.
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Riversimple plans to procure 150 million pounds (around 166 million euros) over the next three years to implement the production plans. The company intends to use these funds to build two factories, each capable of manufacturing around 5,000 vehicles per year. Riversimple is initially looking for sites in Central and South Wales and is in discussions with the British and Welsh governments.
To date, the company has funded its research and development activities purely through grants and crowdfunding. The company’s founder, Hugo Spowers, sees the planned raising of funds through investors as the next logical step. Riversimple has already bagged a partnership with the Welsh investment firm Gambit Corporate Finance.
Riversimple also intends to work closely with the British government. After the lifting of the Covid-19 restrictions, for example, a publicly funded pilot test with Riversimple’s small fuel cell cars is to start. To this end, a few Rasa cars are currently being built by hand in Monmouthshire. The start-up is also involved in the ‘Milford Haven Energy Kingdom’ project to build a hydrogen cluster in Pembrokeshire.
Concerning the subsequent marketing of the series-produced Rasa, the manufacturer has a ‘Mobility as a Service’ business model in mind, under which the vehicle can be rented for a fixed monthly fee plus a flat-rate mileage allowance. In addition to the vehicle itself, the subscription package will include maintenance, insurance, tires and fuel. Riversimple still does not publish technical data on the Rasa. However, Hugo Spowers states that “over 4,000 people have already expressed an interest in being a future customer
of Riversimple.” He added: “Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are the only zero-carbon solution that offers customers the convenience that they have come to expect: three minutes to refuel and a decent range. They represent a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the UK to take a leading role in the future of the auto sector, harnessing the unrivalled skill base that we have in automotive technology”.
As a side note, Riversimple was last on electrive’s radar three years ago. At the time, it was said that the Rasa was about to enter the beta test phase. The company announced that it would lease the first 3,500 units in 2018. So it looks like Riversimple is currently making a second attempt.
Update 12 February 2021: Riversimple has taken another step on the way to manufacturing its fuel cell small car Rasa as the startup signs an MoU with Siemens. The partners call the agreement “wide-ranging” with Riversimple hoping for Siemens’ planning and simulation software for manufacturing operations and factory simulation for the new
production facilities in particular. Both companies also stressed their shared commitment to sustainability.
Riversimple has also mentioned its agreement with Gambit Corporate Finance LLP again to run an investment round that aims to raise £150 million over the next three years, which is set to fund two manufacturing plants.
The company did not give any further update on progress but repeated its intention to start building the Rasa fuel cell car at scale in 2023 and a light goods vehicle the following year.