Category: News

07
Jan

GROWING PUBLIC INTEREST IN RIVERSIMPLE AND THE RASA

Talking to the public about Riversimple and showing the Rasa at events is an important part of growing the Riversimple movement. We reported last summer about our hectic public activities to June last year, and the second half of last year saw no let-up.

In August, we joined the Hydrogen Hub in Swindon for a day dedicated to the local hydrogen economy. There is a refuelling point there and over 30 organisations are working together to develop projects to deploy hydrogen and fuel cell technology.

Our progress also drew a very prominent visitor to our HQ – Lord Bamford, Chairman of JCB, along with a team of engineers, dropped by in a helicopter much to the amusement of golfers on the local green!

In September Riversimple founder Hugo Spowers gave a lecture at the Institute of Engineering and Technology and we presented at the Unreasonable World Impact Forum at the Royal Institution in London.

In October, Hugo was a panel speaker at the Tory Party Conference in Manchester chaired by Jesse Norman, Undersecretary for Roads and Transport, on the subject of decarbonising road transport and he spoke again at the prestigious Wired Energy Conference in London, while senior engineer Dr Stafford Lloyd spoke at a House of Lords committee meeting on zero emission vehicles.

In November, while the Rasa went to the Advanced Engineering Show at the NEC and then on to Brussels to support the annual review of the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU), Hugo spoke in Bratislava at the UNIDO Conference on the Circular Economy for the automotive industry and

 Stafford went to Uruguay to present at the first Circular Economy Forum for Latin America which was subsequently featured in the Disruptive Innovation Festival  – Riversimple is an Emerging Innovator Member of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s CE100. 

In December, Hugo gave the inaugural David Mackay Memorial Lecture to the Energy, Environment and Sustainability Group of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers and addressed the Innovation team of the Welsh Government the day afterwards.

But maybe powertrain architect Dr Nico Sergent had the sunniest December speaking engagement, at the Energaïa conference in Montpelier in the Occitane region of France.

In the meantime, back at Riversimple HQ, the workshop and R&D teams have been busy fine-tuning the software and modifying some of the hardware for the build of new Beta cars. The new carbon fibre chassis includes front and rear subframes and is 20 kgs lighter in total.  More on the technology next time.

May 2018 be a Happy Year for all enterprises focused on eliminating negative environmental impact.

 

 

04
Jul

FROM SWANSEA TO BAKEWELL – THE RASA HAS BEEN IN GREAT DEMAND

We have been to a wonderful series of summer events, from grassroots festivals to art exhibitions to internationally-renowned extravaganzas attracting crowds of over 250,000. Whatever the audience, people are impressed by the Rasa’s sophisticated, ultra-efficient design and our game-changing business model. We remain the only car-maker to adopt a circular economy, and we are sticking firmly to our fundamental aim of making the car accessible to the many, not the few.

Our first event of the season was the Clean Air Roadshow in Swansea in April, organised by Swansea City Council. The Rasa sat in Castle Square beside two Hyundai FCEV cars owned by Swansea Fire Service – what greater endorsement of hydrogen cars could there be?

At the Hay Festival we discussed sustainable transport with the Festival’s Andy Fryers. The Times also covered our observations about the heated debate between EV owners and FCEV supporters.

The Rasa held its own for a week as a work of art among the Supercars including a McLaren P1 as part of the stunning Art in Motion exhibition at Messum’s Gallery in Wiltshire.

And then the car was honoured to be a key feature in the RHS’s ‘Garden for Changing Climate’ at the Chatsworth Flower Show.  Designed by the University of Sheffield to highlight their report for the RHS on the impact of climate change, the garden itself featured wild flower lawn along with orange and olive trees.

Built by landscape experts Killingley, it was also full of clever ideas to illustrate how to manage future water needs and reuse materials. Changing climate being the theme – the first day of the event was cancelled due to gales and heavy rain!

 

Most recently, we have been in Abergavenny to promote our forthcoming Beta Test of 20 Rasas, starting at the end of the year. We have begun to compile a list of triallists in and around Abergavenny; if you are interested in participating, please click here for more information.

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.

27
Jan

MAKING EFFICIENCY PROFITABLE

Hugo was invited to  ‘pitch’ his vision of how to de-carbonise road transport in a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style event hosted by Policy Exchange on January 27th 2017. The audience voted it the winning vision. Here it is in full, delivered in 7 minutes.

How to de-carbonise road transport?

The answer is that we need to make efficiency profitable.  This may sound glib but it is the core of Riversimple’s proposition.

By this I mean that the principal barriers are not technical, but to do with people, politics and business inertia.  If we make the pursuit of efficiency a source of profit, the technology is available to transform the carbon performance of our vehicles.  I am not saying that it’s easy, there’s a lot of work to do, but technology is not one of the showstoppers, although it does unfortunately dominate the debate.

Riversimple is currently developing Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles (HFCVs) – we appear to be the only independent hydrogen fuel car company in the world. However, we are a sustainable car company not a hydrogen car company.  We do need a portfolio of solutions and we support the appropriate use of Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) for short range applications with overnight charging to stabilise the grid, but the reason we are developing hydrogen vehicles is that there is nothing else that can be remotely as efficient as an HFCV, on a Well to Wheel (WtW) basis, for the sort of range to which we have become accustomed.  And it is the one area in which the potential of the technology is not being realised, so it is an opportunity.

The car that we have developed with support from the Welsh Government, the Rasa (as in Tabula Rasa), has a 300 mile range and its calorific energy consumption is equivalent to 250mpg on petrol.  Its CO2 emissions, if using hydrogen from natural gas, based on oil industry figures from the CONCAWE report, are only 40g/km, half that of anything claimed for any BEV.  Until we make more progress on decarbonising the grid, the last thing we can afford to do is dump transport demand onto it – we will make more impact on carbon emissions if we use green electricity to displace coal rather than petrol.

An HFCV also requires much less behaviour change than a BEV, with a similar range and refuelling experience to petrol.  This brings us to the biggest difference from an implementation point of view.  As we scale the volume, it becomes progressively harder to support BEVs and much easier, and more economic, to support HFCVs.  If we were to replace the 20 pumps at a typical motorway services with the charging capacity to support the same throughput of battery cars, using Tesla’s figures, we would need a 14.4MW substation, which to put it in perspective is the average consumption of 27,400 homes in the UK.  So the idea of replacing our 30 million combustion-engined cars with batteries is utterly inconceivable.

There is a chicken and egg question over the critical scale of infrastructure required to unlock a commercial market for hydrogen cars, a few hundred for the UK, and we need a transition strategy.  If we start with cars for local use, a large proportion of the UK fleet of 30 million, this critical scale comes down to one filling station.  If you put a single filling station in a small city, such as Oxford, anybody who wants a car for local use and has a reason to come into Oxford once a week is a potential customer.  That is the reason for our 300 mile range, not 300 mile journeys.  And if you put 50 cars into the market there, the filling station has 50 captive customers and will break even more quickly, so the investment case is stronger.  You can then grow the network, one filling station at a time, allowing you to grow the skeleton of a nationwide network without ever taking a nationwide gamble.

But I’d like to return to my initial point.  A VW Beetle in 1948 did 38mpg. 60 years later, a new VW Beetle did – 38mpg!  It was obviously faster and safer but we must remember that less than halfway through this period, in 1973, was the oil crisis, so we might reasonably have expected more progress than this. Unfortunately, if you sell cars, there is no incentive to improve efficiency, because customers always discount future costs almost to zero – other than regulation, and that is a blunt instrument, as we have seen.  If we want to make progress, we must make energy efficiency profitable. We can, and this is a huge opportunity.

Instead of selling cars, if we sell performance contracts, all-inclusive contracts that cover all aspects of car usership, such as insurance and critically fuel, the manufacturer of the car is the one that receives the benefit of fuel efficiency – efficiency then becomes profitable.

This is much more effective than any mandate; a mandate gives an incentive to comply but not to excel. Whilst compliance eats into very tight margins, the incentive is to lobby against them and then to cheat when they’re in force.  Performance contracts require next to no behaviour change, as it is similar for the customer to leasing a car, only more convenient.

  • It generates stronger margins at lower prices to the customer.
  • It embraces car sharing in all its forms, as we are selling mileage rather than cars, whereas car sharing is an unwelcome trend if you sell cars.

It changes the financial drivers from obsolescence to longevity, from resource throughput to resource conservation, amortising embodied energy over as long a period as possible.

It aligns the interests of manufacturers with those of customers, of society and of policy objectives.

In fact, I don’t see that we can ever hope to have a sustainable industrial society based on rewarding industry for the opposite of what we are trying to achieve.

It also transforms the economic barriers of bringing new technologies to market; no premium is necessary, the cars can be supplied to customers at an equivalent cost of ownership long before the supply chain costs match those of combustion engines.

It even addresses professional car theft – who’s going to steal a car that you can’t sell?

What is more is that not only is a profitable industry a self-fulfilling prophesy but it needs less public subsidy.  However there are barriers.  Pump priming will make a dramatic difference to the speed at which we can achieve this; like acupuncture, small but well-targeted interventions will have a disproportionate impact in stimulating this change and unlocking an enormous economic opportunity for the UK.

In summary:

We need to take the long view and support a portfolio of technologies to reduce carbon emissions and energy consumption, as any sustainable system has to use available renewable energy as efficiently as possible, on the basis of well to wheel rather than tailpipe figures.

We need to support a realistic transition strategy for hydrogen infrastructure that enables early adoption and points the way for private sector investment.

The circular economy offers more resilient business models that profit from solving the problems we face.  They all generate significant debt requirements that will unlock a range of new financial products, but until the models are proven, government loan guarantees would significantly accelerate their uptake and the benefits they will yield.

And finally, hydrogen and electricity as our two primary energy vectors can deliver far greater economic utility than either on their own, but hydrogen is the one critical element of the puzzle that we do not yet have in place.

Thank you.

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

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.

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.