THE BLOG

10
Apr

THANK YOU AND WELCOME, RIVERSIMPLE CROWD

As our first crowdfunding closed at midnight on Sunday 9th April, we were thrilled to have reached over £1,138,000. A huge thank you to all those who have pledged to join us on this exciting and important journey towards clean and efficient cars.

Photographer: Anthony Dawton

In the meantime, we have fitted a new back end to the Rasa made of bio carbon, with layers of flax woven into it.

Inspired by nature in so many ways, the car has butterfly  doors and  now a ‘whale fluke’ boot, which will comfortably take a set of golf clubs or, if it is more to your taste, two cabin bags and a case of wine.

And that is good news as we definitely have occasion to celebrate! The entire team in LLandrindod Wells is in very high spirits. Thank you all.

15
Mar

PROFITABLE, DISRUPTIVE, SUSTAINABLE – THE INVESTMENT CASE FOR RIVERSIMPLE

As we approach the final days of our first crowd round we thought we should share some reasons to invest. The numbers and financial projections are readily available once you’ve registered but here is the big picture.

Our business is focused on making efficient cars desirable and efficiency profitable. Bending great engineering and design to this task is indisputably good news for the environment, but it also makes sound business sense. The more efficient our cars are and the longer they are on the road, the more money we make. No need to cheat the regulations.

Environmental performance    

The Rasa is the car furthest on the road towards sustainability. It boasts the lowest CO2 well-to-wheel, the lowest particulates and NOx from tyres and braking (none from the exhaust – just pure water), the longest lasting cars, with maximum recovery of value at end of life. And at the equivalent of 250mpg, it is probably the most fuel–efficient vehicle yet designed for everyday road-going use (ie not a test or competition car).

This environmental performance is not at the expense of design and desirability. 

Design and Desirability The lines of the Rasa are sleek and streamlined for incredible aerodynamics. Chris Reitz, famed for designing the iconic FIAT 500, styled the Rasa: “Early adopters are very open in their mind – they like to have their finger on the pulse, they look for a car with style.”

And the Rasa is a dreamy ride.

 “A car designed from the ground up to harness the power of hydrogen, and slip through the air like an otter through water “ Jack Rix

  “Almost like a glider to drive, inasmuch as it wants to flow with nature”   Chris Evans

But the car is principally designed with people in mind – their safety and comfort. For example, the butterfly doors make it easy to get in and out of, despite being a low car.

We also believe in minimal clutter and will be seeking to (River)simplify even further. Our planned 20-car beta test will allow feedback to directly influence the development of the car and the service to deliver what customers really want and remove the things that they don’t.

A business model that delivers for the customer as well as the company

Offering the car as a service makes our cars affordable, de-risks uptake for the customer and takes the hassle out of ownership with an all-inclusive, cost-transparent service. Globally, consumers are shifting their perceptions. And this works to our advantage. Usership over ownership is a common theme in some clever and astonishingly lucrative businesses, from mobile phone providers to hire-by-the-hour cars. The future is ‘servitisation’.

Sustainability also makes sense for shareholders. Some businesses are starting to adopt circular economy principles to save money. We‘re a step ahead. Our entire business is designed not just to save money but make more profit, at the same price to the customer, with cars that are built for longevity, resource conservation – and, crucially, a resilient income stream.

A hydrogen lead in the UK

China, the world’s biggest car market, is now actively supporting fuel cell vehicle development with major subsidies, and countries like Japan and the US, regions known for leading innovation trends, are developing infrastructure for hydrogen.

Riversimple could give the UK a lead position in this technology. Compared to other hydrogen fuel cell cars, Riversimple’s vehicle has the same acceleration and range, but is a 3rd of the weight, a 13th of the power and 3x as efficient. Public refuelling stations in the UK are being opened, with more stacking up in the pipeline. These stations alone are enough to support our first 3 years of planned production.

Small-scale manufacturing, big talent

Our latest innovation? A layer of flax in the Rasa’s carbon fibre shell. Our continuing focus is on efficiency, lightweighting, improvement of the ride in the car and safety.

Small is beautiful and profitable in our case, but it is also scale-able; this broad spectrum of profitable scale is very rare and is a key strategy to derisk our business.

Our business model embraces small-scale, regional manufacturing operations that draw on the best the UK has to offer and our first phase of manufacturing could create 220 jobs locally in Wales. UK automotive talent is world-renowned and we’re already attracting engineers from the likes of Bentley, Jaguar Land Rover, Rolls Royce plc and aerospace. We also have the promise of material financial support from the Welsh government.

Improving air quality

Finally, and maybe most importantly, we are offering something that the world needs rather more urgently than autonomous vehicles.  According to the Royal College of Physicians, c.40,00 early deaths a year in the UK are caused by air pollution.  Just under 210,000 light delivery van journeys  were recorded in Birmingham in 2015.   Imagine replacing all those diesel delivery vans with non-polluting Riversimple hydrogen vans.

This  is an opportunity to invest not only in a huge market but in a future that we all want to see and breathe.

INVEST HERE

Our current crowdfunding campaign has been approved as a financial promotion by ShareIn Limited, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (603332). Capital at risk.  Photography by Anthony Dawton.

20
Jan

THE RIVERSIMPLE DISTANCE TRAVELLED IN 2016

On this very day last year, 20th January 2016, the Rasa was driven for the first time. It was a very cold and very beautiful morning.

In February 2016 we launched the Riversimple Rasa, our sleek, smart prototype hydrogen fuel cell car.

In May, the Rasa starred at the London Motorshow.

Riversimple Rasa at GoodwoodIn June, the Rasa took on the hill climb at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Our local MP Chris Davies invited Riversimple Rasa to visit Parliament. We were overwhelmed by the interest and enthusiasm from MPs of all parties.

In July, Oldsmobile and Riversimple – pioneers in different centuries –  were side by side at CarFest.

Riversimple scooped the prestigious Simms Medal awarded by the RAC Club for “a genuine contribution to motoring innovation”.

Thank you to all the journalists and supporters who have taken the time to get under the skin of Riversimple.  We have enjoyed great reviews of Riversimple’s technology, design, business model and governance  and great conversations about the future of clean, sustainable mobility.

Nobody has written so clearly and thoughtfully about our governance before.

Growing the movement is our priority now 

Thank you to all crowd investors for your commitment to this journey… everybody who has a spin in the car gets out smiling.  People have pledged anything from £50 to £100,000.  Please join us while the crowdfunding is still open.

02
Nov

RIVERSIMPLE RECEIVE PRESTIGIOUS ROYAL AUTOMOBILE CLUB SIMMS MEDAL

2 November 2016

5.00am. Riversimple Rasa is parked in Pall Mall, London. To be more precise, Riversimple Rasa is parked on a beautiful carpet at the Royal Automobile Club’s celebrated London Clubhouse in Pall Mall, London. Preparations for a special announcement are already underway.

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The RAC was founded in 1897 by Frederick Richard Simms with the primary purpose of promoting the motor car and its place in society. Today it is an immense institution, widely felt to be the UK ‘spiritual home’ of motoring.

9.00am. At time of writing the news is if course embargoed, but later today Riversimple are to receive the Royal Automobile Club Simms Medal.

The Simms Medal is awarded in recognition of “a genuine contribution to motoring innovation by individuals or small companies,” and only in years when such an award is merited. The last winners were Williams Advanced Engineering. The team were awarded the Simms Medal in 2015 for the design, development and production of battery powered Formula E racing cars.

12.00 am. The scene is set. Today is not just about ambition, nor engineering achievement. It is not just about British innovation, nor proving that the hydrogen fuel cell deserves a place in a modern transport system.  It is about technology that is relevant, smart, cleaner – a weapon in the fight to protect the environment.

12.30 pm

hugo-spowers-of-riversimpleAs Hugo Spowers steps forward to receive the Simms medal, the journalists are already tweeting: “Riversimple scoops the Simms Medal” “Winning the Royal Automobile Club Simms medal is Riversimple for its Rasa hydrogen fuel cell vehicle.”

Looking back on past winners is humbling – Williams Advanced Engineering; Richard Parry-Jones CBE of Ford Motor Company Group; Professor Gary Savage of B.A.R. Formula 1 team for the carbon fibre gearbox;  Mr. Mick Hyde of Radical Motorsport for the SR3 sports racing car.  We are truly honoured to be in such prestigious company.

The whole Riversimple team has much to be proud of. We have many people to thank, not least the Welsh government. We have come along way. Accomplished a great deal.  Defied a few odds.  And now the road stretches out ahead of us.

 

31
Oct

TOMORROW’S AUTOMOTIVE

Riversimple Rasa at LCV16.  A serious surprise for the automotive professionals. 

“Business with impact, business that earns trust, sustainable business that will stand the test of time – that is what this is about” Estelle Clark, Riversimple

The Cenex Low Carbon Vehicle (LCV) Event has been running for 9 years. It’s the premier UK event for the advanced propulsion sector, attracting representatives from right across the automotive industry and the engineering world.

Last year, at LCV15, Hugo Spowers, Richard Coltart and team Riversimple arrived with a chassis and a business plan. It was no ordinary plan. It’s not everyday that a start-up sets out to become a contender in the hugely competitive automotive industry. And it was no ordinary chassis. It was the basis of a ground breaking car, designed around a hydrogen fuel cell coupled with a bank of supercapacitors.

The car in the process of being built by Riversimple was little more than a framework. There is no doubt there were those who suspected it would never be driven on the roads. At that time, the hydrogen fuel cell at the heart of Riversimple’s groundbreaking network electric system had not yet been connected.  The Riversimple engineers literally had to push the chassis onto the stand.
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FAST FORWARD ONE YEAR

At LCV16 we arrived on site with Riversimple Rasa, a sleek, smart, production prototype hydrogen fuel cell car – 300 miles on a single refuel – 0 emissions or pollutants – 3 minutes to refuel – 580kg kerb weight – 8.5 kw hydrogen fuel cell – 1.9MJ supercapacitors – 4-wheel drive – 680Nm torque – on the road – offering rides and driving beautifully .

As an LCV delegate said to Richard Coltart, program manager responsible for taking the Rasa from concept to prototype, “Last year Riversimple looked like another academic project. Now you’re driving the prototype around the UK. I’ve come across to shake your hand.”

Together we have achieved something truly remarkable. To those who thought it could not be done..Well, it can.

The next step is to build 20 cars and test them.  This summer, we agreed the first trial of Rasa in the UK. We will be partnering with Monmouthshire County Council, to run a 12-month trial of 20 hand-built hydrogen cell cars for short term contracts. Which invites exciting new questions. What will we bring to LCV17 – LCV18 – LCV2020?

Where will we be in tomorrow’s automotive industry?

And will you be with us?

Invest in Riversimple at https://riversimple.sharein.com/invest

13
Sep

PIONEERING: COOPER, LOTUS, RIVERSIMPLE

Cooper and Lotus put the UK at the forefront of Formula 1 in the late 50s.  As they showed, when it comes to step changes small teams have an unfair advantage.  For them there was one simple goal – speed.  Many Riversimple engineers come from the racing world but their goal is different – not speed but lightness, in every sense of the word.

In 1948, the Royal Automobile Club employed ex-farmer, James Wilson Brown to turn a wartime airfield and farm into a race track for the first RAC International Grand Prix.  On 2 October 1948, a crowd of 100,000 gathered to see Luigi Villoresi beat a field of 22 in his Maserati.  A piggery in the middle of the race circuit was protected by hay bales and ropes, with canvas barriers around the outside to keep everyone on the course.  The track was Silverstone and the history of Formula 1 racing was in the making.  Always edgy and inventive, these early racing cars were technical miracles in their day – built for ‘the purpose of earthbound flight’ – made up of chassis, cockpit, panels, engine, tank, wheels – and nothing else.

COOPER AND LOTUS

Cooper and Lotus put the UK on the Formula One map and rose to the top in the racing world – without ever building an engine.  The 1950s was a time when lots of engineering took place at the back of someone’s garage or workshop, often during some spare time after work.  Engineer and racing enthusiast Charlie Cooper built the first chassis for a rear engine Cooper – which was to transform Grand Prix racing – in such a workshop.  Colin Chapman built the first Lotus around an Austin Seven engine in a lock-up garage behind his girl friend’s house.

Chapman’s Lotus 15 1959 –engine is still at the front

Chapman’s Lotus 15 1959 –  the engine is still at the front


Cooper Mk Vlll with rear engine 1950s

Cooper Mk Vlll with rear engine 1950s

These pioneers bought engines off the shelf and then built a very different car around them.  They were inventive and talented, and they spent many hours tinkering and trying out new ideas.  For them there was one simple goal – speed.  Their impressive success can be traced back to their ingenuity; they actually started with less powerful engines than some of their competitors but were able to step up the game by designing a better overall system.

NEW PURPOSE

Hugo Spowers, like many Riversimple engineers, comes from the racing world.  He left motorsport in order to “pursue, systematically, the elimination of the environmental impact of personal transport”.  The Rasa is Riversimple’s first production prototype.  The story of its development has much in common with the story of those early F1 pioneers.  But the goal is different – not speed but lightness.  And we mean lightness in the broadest sense of the word – a car that treads lightly, that leaves the air clean, the future more secure.  To meet the goal there are choices to be made.  Once you decide to build around a hydrogen fuel cell, a whole new set of options become possible.  A lighter car.  A new technology.  A new system for managing energy use … this is system change.  The paradox is that, while you need a large company with a large budget to make incremental improvements to conventional cars, a small, agile team with a small budget may be better placed to make a quantum leap.

Riversimple Rasa H2 fuel cell powertrain 2015

Riversimple Rasa H2 fuel cell powertrain 2015

The breakthrough at Riversimple is wholly innovative.  If you want to help us succeed, join our crowd of investors. We may have started in a small workshop, but we mean to show the world what is possible.

 

15
Aug

RASA ON THE ROAD OF TIME: CAR FEST NORTH

If Riversimple Rasa were a rock star, then Andre Bird would be the tour manager. Andre is actually head of the R&D workshop at Riversimple. He spent nearly 20 years flying the Royal Family around the country and the world, first as a crewman on helicopters and then as crew chief leader looking after the fleet. Leaving the Royal Air Force in 1997, he joined Williams F1 and spent the next 17 years in motor racing before his most exciting project yet – with Riversimple.  This summer Andre has also been accompanScreenshot 2016-08-03 14.12.07ying Rasa on tour!

Two weeks ago, for example, the tour team left at the crack of dawn for Car Fest North.  To try to paint a picture of the departure, you need to imagine the scene in Wales, as Rasa is loaded up by Andre and fellow engineer Bill – in his camping shorts!!  Well, you know, not all of us get such real-time excitement. So here are some of the most memorable moments, captured by Andre and the team at Bolesworth Castle with the car that is a bit of a super star:

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Memorable Moment no 1: “The tent is up”

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Memorable Moment no 2: “Just completed our first run in the time tunnel section and even had time to meet up with old F1 colleagues”

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Memorable Moment no 3: “The oldest car and the newest car share the track. Can’t wait for Car Fest South”

Car Fest South is on 26-28 AUGUST 2016 LAVERSTOKE PARK FARM, HAMPSHIRE. See you there!

PS. We would especially like to thank Oliver for his email on our return to base from Bolesworth. Here it is.

Hello my name is Oliver aged 13,

I took a particular interest in your Hydrogen car at Car Fest North at the weekend. Every day over the weekend I visited your car and chatted with Andre who told me lots of interesting facts. For example, the batteries in the Tesla model X weigh about the same as the whole of your car!! I am very interested in engineering and would like to come and visit some time, and maybe even get an engineering job at River simple!

Great to meet you and thanks again for making my weekend so memorable 🙂

 Andre replies:

It is always a breath of fresh air to have one so young with such an interest and to be so knowledgeable in motor cars and engineering in general. I am delighted that you found the information I passed on to you of interest and impressed that you recall some of the details i.e. Tesla battery weight etc.

 The only words of encouragement I can give you is that you attain the highest levels of education, if possible resulting in an Engineering Degree. This will open so may additional avenues for you. I have been so lucky in my career, starting as an Aircraft Engineer and then being able to transfer into Automotive (F1).

 There is an extreme shortage of Engineers in general in all industries so you have the opportunity to aspire to great things … and maybe one day join Riversimple as an Engineer.

28
Jul

One of our favourite words: USERSHIP

An Energy Services Company or ESCo, is a particular kind of company, especially popular in Scandinavia, that sells energy and heating services to customers.  For example, an ESCo can arrange to install a lovely, warm, state-of-the-art biomass boiler for your home or business.  They will cover the upfront capital costs of the project, as well as the management, delivery and storage of the fuel supply.  And they will carry out regular maintenance of the boiler.

Simply put, this means that ESCo customers don’t have to find large amounts of capital to buy a new boiler or heating system.  It also means that the hassle of installation, maintenance, ordering fuel etc. is shouldered by the service provider and the whole lot is wrapped in one package.  It’s a good example of what we mean by the word Usership.

At Riversimple, we apply the same basic principle to cars.  Our business model replaces car ownership with a sale of service package.  There are a number of logical reasons for this.  First of all, it’s more sustainable.  Secondly, it makes the technology affordable. And thirdly, sale of service takes away the hassle of ownership without the limitations of a car share scheme (though we love those too).

We firmly believe that the world is more than ready for the concept of Usership.  For a start, Usership is simpler. Riversimple customers won’t have to remember to get the car serviced, renew the tax, find the best insurance deal etc. And they won’t have to shoulder the considerable burden of depreciation. These things add nothing to the pleasure of driving a good car.

We’ve said it before. The Riversimple Rasa will not be for sale. We offer people an option to say goodbye to hidden costs and unwanted hassle – Usership – because, as Brecht would say “To live means to finesse the processes to which one is subjugated.”

13
Jul

RASA ON THE ROAD in 2016

The appearance of fresh new technology can make an ordinary day feel suddenly interesting. Who wouldn’t be intrigued by a fantastic new car in the neighbour’s drive? Who wouldn’t pop across the road to take a closer look and have a chat?

Certainly we were delighted when our local MP Chris Davies arranged for us to park the Riversimple Rasa in New Palace Yard in the Houses of Parliament on June 15th 2016, just a week before the referendum was set to take place. There followed a steady stream of politicians, popping across to find out about the Riversimple Rasa. We encountered genuine interest and enthusiasm from representatives of all parties. Thank you.

It turns out this was the calm before something of a storm. Just eight days later and Westminster was transformed by a series of events. An MP was murdered, Britain voted to leave the European Union on June 23, the Prime Minister resigned, in fact there was a wave of resignations and new leadership challenges. Suddenly everything we all thought we knew about Britain was up in the air.

And so these photographs have a special significance. They capture – not just famous faces; not just Westminster in the June sunshine; not just a remarkable new car, made in Britain and designed for a changing world – but a moment in time.

This summer, team Riversimple have been out and about across Britain with the Rasa.  We went to Manchester for Business Rocks, we found ourselves in a prime spot at the London Motor Show and we even took part in the famous hill climb at Goodwood.

We are based in Wales, and so we are especially delighted to have the support of Ken Skates, Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure in the Welsh Government, who also went for a spin recently:

Ken Skates, Welsh Cabinet Seceretary for Economy Ken Skates

But we will never forget that moment at Westminster. We want to thank every single person who has come to see the Rasa, purchased shares (the share offer is still open) and added their names to the growing list of supporters. The times are indeed a-changing and the future is now in our hands.

22
Jun

GETTING REAL ABOUT AIR POLLUTION

We loved a recent tweet about Riversimple Rasa “I’d rather be cycling behind one of these.”

Cyclists on British roads sit on the frontline of traffic pollution.  It’s pretty unfair really, since they are not the ones responsible for that pollution.

Being able to travel from A to B is a fundamental part of modern life.  But then again breathing good quality air is pretty fundamental too!  The evolution of the car is a marvelous story, but our love affair with the combustion engine is slowly coming to an end.  Cleaner cars are on their way.  Just take a look around a busy parking lot and you will see how rapidly we are shifting to alternative fuels – cleaner, greener, better.

At Riversimple we are 100% with that cyclist.  None of us want to breathe in a cocktail of pollutants that include nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide; carbon monoxide, and the heavy particulates associated with smog.

RASA TECHNOLOGY

As with all battery electric and fuel cell electric vehicles, the Rasa emits zero nasty emissions at the tail pipe, but a recent report published by Peter Achten and Victor Timmers of Edinburgh University highlights the problem of particulate emissions.  These emissions can come from the tyres and brakes as well as engines.  In fact, now that filters are so good, even diesel cars emit more particulates from tyres and brakes than from the engine.  According to the Achten/Timmers report, because many electric vehicles are heavier than combustion-engined cars, they emit higher levels of particulates.
The Riversimple answer is to go deeper into the design.REAR QUARTER SMOOTHED

The Rasa is strong but light – less than a third of the weight of the Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell car.  This minimises any particulate emission from the tyres, because emissions are proportional to weight.  But even more significantly, the braking system for the Rasa is primarily electrical, rather than dependent on friction.

There are only two instances when the Rasa production model will rely upon friction brakes:

–           emergency stops, anything over 0.3g

–           below 5mph, when there is not enough braking torque

So the only regular release of brake particulates would be when braking at speeds below 5 mph.  However, as our engineers will tell you, the quantity of particulate release from friction braking is proportional to the kinetic energy of the car when you start braking.  At 5mph, the kinetic energy of the car is less than 0.7% that at 60mph.  In other words, particulates not a problem.

SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST

In the wild, animals have a deep- seated ability to react to stimulus.  And in the longer term whole species can adapt to change through the process of natural selection.  It’s a simple, obvious thing – organisms that do not react, do not survive for long.

A similar ability to react is needed in industry.  Air pollution levels are unacceptable and some levels recorded are breaking regulations.  Changing the regulations, put there to protect our health, is no solution.

The businesses that are fittest for the times will survive and thrive.  Great news for people who breathe air.  Bad news for dirty, polluting industries with their heads still stuck in the sand.

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