Category: News


2021: A year in Review

Despite the nations start to 2021 ending up as a false start as the UK went into lockdown, our 2021 started strongly as we were joined by former CEO of Siemens UK, Juergen Maier CBE, as our Commercial Partner Custodian Director in January. As the year began to get traction spring was a very busy time for us as we worked hard building both cars and business relationships and we developed a strategic partnership with Siemens. We launched the Circular Revolution and signed a collaborative agreement with Oil 4 Wales to work towards hydrogen appearing on forecourts. We then hosted our Royal Visitor in July, HRH the Prince of Wales. He took a spin in the Rasa and had a tour of our factory in Llandrindod Wells. A major highlight in our year! After a rapid start, we caught our breath over the summer as the Development Bank of Wales became a shareholder in Riversimple and we announced our partnership with DHL. We also completed our Seedrs funding round raising well over our initial target. After a slightly more relaxed August, we were back to it in September where we attended the Global Offshore Wind Conference as part of the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult, before joining Planetmark on their COP26 tour in Abergavenny. We were then featured on the Earthshot Prize as our friends at Enapter were awarded for their work developing modular electrolysers. 2021 drew to a close with a bang as we headed to London and Glasgow for #cop26. Hydrogen was on the tip of everyone’s tongue as the world realised that hydrogen it was the future. We caught up with Enapter and the Rasa proved a smash hit with world leaders and industry experts.

We would like to take this moment to say thank you all for your support so far, we cannot wait to see what 2022 holds. One this is for sure though, there will be #H2in2022


COP26 Round Up


On the banks of the Clyde at COP26, with the Blue Zone across the river

Apologies for the long silence. Now that COP26 is over, we are surfacing again. The last three months have seen a flurry of activity for Riversimple – we have been all over the UK in the cars, but nowhere more frequently than Pembrokeshire where we have clocked up thousands of miles.

The official launch of the Milford Haven Energy Kingdom (MH:EK) took place on October 7th.

There is an abundance of renewable energy in Pembrokeshire and this can produce both electricity and hydrogen. Smart use of both can achieve more than either can on their own and the MH:EK project is demonstrating when and how to use hydrogen to deliver the maximum value to the local community. The hydrogen refueller, supplied by Fuel Cell Systems, is using Enapter electrolysers to make the hydrogen on the quayside.

To our delight, we found a Rasa featured in the Earthshot Prize award ceremony on October 17th, when Enapter won the Fix Our Climate prize with their AEM electrolyser! We met up with Enapter Co-Founder Vaitea Cowan in Glasgow, where she was rightly the fete of the city. We have a strong affinity – both our companies are trying to make solutions that are affordable, accessible and can be scaled globally, rather than starting with a premium and exclusive solution.
COP26? It was chaotic and inspiring in equal measure.

In London, we took part in Prince Charles’s Sustainable Market Initiative workshops and had a stand at the Hydrogen4Life event on November 4th, organised by Bosch Technologies in the Science Museum. Sky News came to film us.

In Glasgow, we were hosted by the Terra Carta Action Forum at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, we were featured by UKRI in film in the Green Zone and we attended the Hydrogen Transition Conference in the Innovation Zone.

Clockwise from top: Prince Michael of Kent takes a spin round Kensington; outside Glasgow University; on the demo track at the Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc, Dundee; at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery, Glasgow.

And we buzzed about the city in a Rasa. One of the surprises was how very pleasurable and easy that was. We had a fabulous parking space thanks to our friends at OREC, the magnificent city streets were clear and the traffic lights slow enough for people to admire the car.

Towards the end of COP, we went up to the Demonstrator and Showcase Event in the Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc in Dundee. We featured in too many podcasts, articles, videos, news bulletins to list here – for more, please visit our website and click on the links.

Hydrogen was one of the buzzwords of COP and the key debate was about what colour it should be. Green or blue? In fact, there is now a rainbow of colours to denote both the energy source and the method of generation, but we were struck by just how much energy (forgive the pun) there was behind the green version. While the cars themselves are colourblind, we are firm believers in green before blue or any other colour. Green hydrogen is all too often defined as hydrogen from electrolysis using renewable energy but there are other sources and paths to creating green hydrogen that we can tap. By the way, is anybody colour-coding electricity?

Riversimple’s Purpose is “To pursue, systematically, the elimination of the environmental impact of personal transport.”


Riversimple’s Royal Visitor – HRH The Prince of Wales

Last week excitement was growing as we counted down the hours until the arrival of our royal visitor HRH the Prince of Wales. As the technicians frantically tidied the workshop the rest of us rifled through our wardrobes trying to find our best suits and dresses.

Prince Charles, arrived on tuesday morning (06/07/2021). With his passionate interest in sustainability, he was keen to meet both those who are working in the company and those whose commitment is key to our future. Other prominent guests included, the Rt Hon Simon Hart, Secretary of State for Wales; Mike Owen, Chief Investment Officer for the Development Bank of Wales; Sioned Evans, Director of Business and Regions for the Welsh Government; Brian Holliday, MD of Siemens UK Digital Industries; Mike Bristow, MD Manufacturing Logistics in HL Supply Chain; Oil 4 Wales director Sally Williams and Cllr Andrea Lewis from Swansea. All are taking an active interest in Riversimple. We also had the support of Fay Jones MP, James Evans MS, as well as Cllr Rosemarie Harris and Nigel Brinn of Powys County Council who are all critical to seeing Riversimple’s plans come to fruition, particularly in welcoming our first manufacturing facility in mid Wales. The architectural plans above drew a lot of attention.

The Prince took a test drive in a Rasa and was surprised at how well grounded it felt given its light weight and skinny tyres.  The royal team brought their film crew who produced this short film of the day.

The day was a resounding success with HRH singing the praises of the Rasa and what Riversimple are achieving as a business in the world of Welsh innovation with our Circular Revolution project and as pioneers of hydrogen mobility.

For more information and to sign up for the latest updated join our waiting list here.


Riversimple Beta Test begins in Abergavenny, Wales

The Riversimple Beta Test began at the end of April and, in true Welsh fashion, it was a very wet afternoon! Four early-stage Beta Testers kindly agreed to preview the Beta Test process – Jeremy, a retired engineer; Roland, an IT Manager; Harriet, a solicitor; and Jayne, a national programme manager. They drove the Rasa Beta on various circuits through and around Abergavenny. 

Beta testing is a term coined by the software world to describe real user, real world testing before public release of a new product or update.  In our case, we are Beta testing both our cars and our service with members of the general public, with a view to refining designs before kicking off volume production.  It is an ambitious goal for a car company and has been a long time coming; technical and Covid-related delays played havoc with our original timing for this all-important trial.

We were pleased how quickly our Beta Testers became familiar and confident with the vehicle, but even more pleased that the Rasa was fun to drive; even though the speed is capped at 60mph, the design of the Rasa Beta made Harriet feel “like a racing driver”,  Jayne described it as “really exciting”. 

As well as engaging with individuals, the Beta Test will include households, car sharing clubs and public organisations such as Monmouthshire County Council as part of their workplace fleet. Our concurrent research into fleets confirms that carbon reduction is high on organisations’ agendas and hydrogen powered vehicles could have a very important role to play.  As the government pushes for the banning of new petrol and diesel  cars, we want to make sure that there is a zero emission choice for those who can’t accommodate or don’t want a battery powered electric car.  Right now it seems that there are still reasons to hesitate, as this research from the AA indicates.

The waiting list for our Riversimple vehicles is growing– from individuals to organisations, there is a real and lively appetite to help Riversimple shape the sustainable driving of the future. 

We look forward to sharing the fun and pleasure of driving the state-of-the-art Rasa Beta with more Beta Testers throughout the year both in Abergavenny, where the test is supported by OZEV (the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles) and in Milford Haven, as part of the Milford haven:Energy Kingdom demonstration of smart local energy systems, supported by UKRI (UK research and Innovation Council).


Leon Kamhi joins Riversimple as Investor Custodian

We are thrilled to welcome Leon Kamhi as our new Investor Custodian.  In this role, he will represent our investors’ interests clearly and vocally alongside our other Custodians and help to oversee the delivery of our strategy, using his expertise to guide the Operating Board as we scale up. Our many individual investors voted him into office unanimously.

Leon is Head of Responsibility in the international business of Federated Hermes, a global leader in active, responsible investment with billions under management. He drives the responsibility integration programme across the group, ensuring investment teams are aware of and integrate ESG performance in investment decisions – as well as leading several corporate and public policy engagements.

From Leon’s perspective Riversimple is an innovator in this field; “Riversimple’s innovative and environmentally-friendly approach to personal transport and unique, stakeholder-focused governance structure is sustainability in action. I am excited and privileged to join this progressive enterprise as the Investor Custodian”.

Society as a whole has a stake in Riversimple.

Our Future Guardian corporate governance structure is radically different. We have a total of six Custodians, one to represent the interests of each of our critical stakeholders, namely Investors, the Environment, Staff, Community, Customers and Commercial Partners.  They hold the only voting shares in the company and it is the Board’s fiduciary responsibility to balance and protect the benefit streams of each one.  We are fortunate to have Estelle Clark, who has been advising the IoD, ISO and UKAS on new approaches to corporate governance, to act as Steward.

Nobody is happier to have Leon’s wisdom focused on Riversimple than FD, Chris Foxall, himself an investor in the first instance: “I’m very excited not only to be working in a professional leadership capacity with Leon, whose experience in the area of investor stewardship and corporate responsibility at Federated Hermes is truly impressive, but I’m equally encouraged as an investor that my interests of people, planet and profit will be championed and assured through his role as Riversimple’s Investor Custodian.”



We are delighted to welcome Juergen Maier CBE, the former Chief Executive of Siemens UK, as Riversimple’s new Commercial Partner Custodian Director.

Having retired from Siemens only a year ago, Juergen has exceptional experience in collaborating with commercial partners in a wide number of fields, so he comes to this role – as the guardian of their interests in their relationships with Riversimple – with a great depth of understanding.

Riversimple is pioneering a Future Guardian™ governance model, a modern multi-stakeholder corporate governance structure.  Riversimple’s key stakeholder groups are represented by the six Custodian Companies, companies limited by guarantee: Investors; Staff; Environment; Community; Commercial partners; and Customers.

Like everything else at Riversimple, our corporate governance has been designed from a clean sheet of paper to align the interests of all parties and keep our eyes on the Purpose. Founder and MD Hugo Spowers explains, “The company was founded to address the enormous environmental damage created by personal transport and the original intention was to serve the ‘basket of interests’ so often referred to by economists. Shareholder value has primacy in UK law, so we felt that the simplest way to deliver that without a conflict of interests was to make the Environment and other key stakeholder groups shareholders, but without equity rights.”

An Operating Board runs the company with the same autonomy as in any company, but the Board’s fiduciary responsibility is to pursue the company’s Purpose whilst balancing and protecting the benefit streams of all six stakeholder groups, rather than maximising the value of one. The Custodians have a direct influence on the company’s strategy, which they have to approve annually.

Juergen explains his interest in taking on the directorship of Riversimple’s Commercial Partner Custodian company: “ My 33 year career has been characterised by technology disruption creating exciting new industries, supporting technology’s role in creating a more sustainable world, and all of that having a positive societal impact.  I can’t think of another company that embodies all of this as well as Riversimple.  I’m very much looking forward to working with an incredibly ingenious team, creating a new revolution in zero-carbon transport, and creating prosperity for society through that”.




“Just like a normal car”

There was a chorus of hoorays round our HQ in Llandrindod when we heard this from the first ‘normal person’ to drive one of the Rasas built for the Clean Mobility trial. We had no hesitation in inviting Andrew Davis, our Customer Custodian, to be the first behind the wheel and he took the Rasa for a 45 minute tour of the conurbations of Surrey on a blustery, rainy Tuesday 27th October.

Andrew has been a very important influence on Riversimple for the last 10 years. His role has been to represent customers’ interests and he is one of the six voting shareholders to sign off the strategic direction of the company on an annual basis.

As a borough councillor for Elmbridge in Surrey and the founder of Environmental Transport Association (ETA), Andrew has been very clear about where the priorities of good service lie, and has insisted that we bake those into our service design.  A good car is an important start.

Andrew’s verdict:  “Even with all the talk of Riversimple’s groundbreaking ideas over the years, nothing beats actually driving the Rasa.”

H2CXAnot so normal

The Rasa’s number plate sums up the role of this vehicle – H2 for hydrogen, CX for customer experience – but is also a form of protest about our number plate system.

Age-related number plates are a mechanism for building obsolescence into the marketplace for cars.  The age code is changed twice a year, mimicking the spring and autumn seasons in fashion, and triggers an artificial upsurge in car sales. The effect is to stimulate resource consumption, the opposite of what we are trying to achieve.

At Riversimple, we are designing cars to last.  We will be maintaining, refurbishing and upgrading throughout the life of our vehicles so that an older car will be as good as a new one.  This is not unusual in aeroplanes.  We heard recently about the Boeing 747s retiring after 40 years in the sky – how come cars need to be replaced every 3 years?

So we’re not going for normal number plates.  Our plates reminds us that customer experience is key and we’re delighted with our Customer Custodian’s reaction:

“I must say that when we drove the Rasa back into my drive, I got out and looked back at it, I didn’t want you to take it back because it was clearly now mine”.

I think we can say that the Rasa is like a normal car but much more than normal, and of course Andrew, while representing normal people, is much more than a normal person.  Andrew is now stepping down after more than 10 years of supporting the development of Riversimple as Customer Custodian.

Thank you, Andrew.



We are all deeply saddened to have lost Stewart Dow, our Commercial Partners Custodian, to COVID-19. Stewart brought great experience and wisdom to Riversimple.

Stewart worked for BOC, part of the Linde Group, where he was immersed in the field of hydrogen for many years.


He was a catalyst for Riversimple’s early successes, supporting the bid for funding of the LIFEcar project with the Morgan Motor Company which was shown at the Geneva Motorshow in 2008, and then encouraging us to approach the BOC Foundation for support for the Hyrban, which was shown in 2009.



Riversimple has a unique corporate structure based on multi-stakeholder governance.  Six stakeholder groups  (Staff; the Environment; the Community; Commercial Partners; Customers and Investors) are represented by ‘Custodians’ who quietly mentor the company and make sure that we are balancing and protecting their interests.  Stewart, representing our commercial partners,  generously made time for this and gave us the benefit of his commercial wisdom.

Steadfast in his belief in what we were doing,  Stewart brought a balanced view to all conversations. We will continue to build on what Stewart did for us and preserve his legacy throughout. His resting face was a smile.  He will be sorely missed by us all.

May he rest in peace.


15 years: The countdown to clean cars

The UK Government announced at the beginning of the month that they intend to bring forward by 5 years  to 2035 their ban on the sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans, and this includes hybrids, paving the way for clean cars.

The news hasn’t pleased everybody – the Society of Manufacturers and Motor Traders are up in arms about ‘changing the goal posts’. Of course, 15 years in ‘car years’ is very little time, and in practice this ruling might well kill the market for most new internal combustion engined cars well before 2035 – who would be investing in a new petrol or diesel car in 2030?

At Riversimple we are delighted.

Riversimple is the only manufacturer in the UK building hydrogen cars for everyday use.  The Rasa, our lightweight eco coupé, is planned to be our first vehicle – the trial we are kicking off this spring in Monmouthshire is designed to optimise the whole customer proposition and, providing that we hit our funding targets, we could be in full volume production in two years’ time with light, super-efficient, clean, zero emission electric cars powered by hydrogen – good news for anyone who lives in a house or apartment that doesn’t lend itself to overnight charging of a battery electric vehicle.

If truth be told, the infrastructure is very patchy for both battery and hydrogen electric cars at the moment – but we are convinced that service stations are just waiting for hydrogen cars to arrive to switch over a couple of pumps on their forecourts, and we are happy to oblige.

Consumer appetite for clean, hassle-free mobility is voracious. We have thousands of people signed up to be potential customers, and from all over the world: Tim in Chicago wants the first yellow Rasa; Pasi in Sweden would like to trial the Rasa in the snowy conditions in Swedish Lapland; we have queries for a test journey in the Rasa through the Alps; and the rare car importer in Tokyo, who passes three hydrogen pumps on his daily commute – we hear you, and we can’t wait to see our cars gliding quietly, and cleanly, on roads around the world!


Interest surges in clean solutions to transport

In the last few weeks, clean mobility, and hydrogen as part of it, has had a crescendo of interest and Riversimple has been very involved in the zero-emission conversation, from award nominations to media coverage, new events and podcasts. As concern about the climate crisis escalates, people are seeking alternatives to the status quo – and that definitely includes clean personal transport.

It’s wider than just the vehicle itself. Our business is truly disruptive, and that resonates with a growing public interest in new ways of doing things: usership not ownership; circularity instead of take, make, dispose; longevity not obsolescence.

In October’s edition of The Manufacturer and in this piece in November’s Autocar, Riversimple founder Hugo Spowers highlights the necessity for both hydrogen electric and battery electric vehicles:

“Some demands are met better by BEVs and some by hydrogen. We need both these technologies; we don’t argue over solar or wind turbines winning the energy race.”

Hugo also outlines hydrogen’s role as a convenient storage vector for intermittent renewables:

“Electricity and hydrogen are very complementary. You can make electricity more efficiently from some sources and hydrogen more efficiently from others. For instance, producing electricity from wind is far more efficient than hydrogen. But when there’s excess wind, you can’t store electricity but you can store hydrogen. On the other hand, hydrogen is made more efficiently from biogas than electricity.”

Auto Futures is a recently-launched Thomson Reuters platform all about the rapidly-evolving automotive industry – and we attended their stylishly executed event, Auto Futures Live, in London at the end of October. We truly enjoyed being amongst a very informed and forward-thinking bunch.

Watch Hugo in their fascinating Fuel of the Future debate with: Helen Lees from Groupe PSA; Ricardo Martinez-Botas, Professor of Turbomachinery at Imperial College London and ClientEarth’s Dominic Phinn.

The BBC’s Fergus Nicholl covered us in this piece which is largely about hydrogen electric cars from the consumer’s perspective – ‘Behind the wheel of a hydrogen car.”  Fergus took the Hyundai ix35 out for a spin and found it a quiet, clean experience.  “But this is a sector in which the upstart start-up can claim a modest place too,” he says. “Outside Llandrindod Wells, a small market town in central Wales, Riversimple aims to lease, not sell, its futuristic hydrogen fuel cell vehicles to a strictly local market.”

“The Riversimple business model – a three-year fixed price lease aimed at short-distance local drivers – is designed to negate the biggest problem affecting hydrogen cars: range anxiety.”

Hugo himself has also been in focus this autumn. In the era of the cult of personality, his dogged pursuit of Riversimple’s goal – personal mobility with zero environmental impact – has attracted attention. He can be little unreasonable at times. Or, possibly, the most unreasonable of people… Hugo was presented with the London Business School’s George Bernard Shaw Unreasonable Person Award on 14 November!

Hugo with Jeff Skinner and Justin Birkinshaw of LBS. Hugo was both the judges’ and the people’s choice for this award “for an individual who has shown enormous tenacity and stubbornness in pursuing an idea, despite the difficulties encountered along the way”.

Other recent coverage includes this BBC World Service business report on hydrogen cars; this article in French business magazine Challenges; this brilliant Fully Charged podcast, which explores aspects of our atypical business model; and most recently this film on CNBC, featuring Head of Powertrain Dr Nico Sergent.