09
Dec

LIGHTER ELECTRIC CARS

When you stop to think about the wide range of cars on the market today, from gas-guzzlers to electric cars, it’s clear that design choice can have an enormous effect on how much fuel the car consumes, how this will affect performance, and what impact it will have upon the environment.

We have designed the Riversimple Mk2 to be extremely fuel efficient with ultra low emissions but at the same time fun to drive and with a great range.

Fundamental to the great spec of our new car is lightness. There are three key design elements that we chose to ensure that our electric cars would be exceptionally light, without sacrificing strength, safety or durability:

1 – Fuel Cell technology

When NASA scientists were working on the Apollo space programme, they chose to develop the Hydrogen Fuel Cell to take Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins to the moon. For such an aspirational programme, no choice can be made in a haphazard way. The hydrogen fuel cell was chosen because it was much lighter than any kind of battery, and therefore the best choice, both in terms of meeting the energy efficiency requirements and also achieving the range. It’s the same principle for a car. If you want a car that can travel comfortably and long distance on minimal fuel, you start with the right power source.

2 – Carbon Fibre Monocoque

The chassis of Riversimple Mk2 is a carbon fibre monocoque made from very lightweight but extremely strong carbon fibre composites. Monocoque, meaning ‘single shell’ in French, is a construction technique that utilizes a single shell to create the structural integrity of the car. Compared to older techniques, in which a body is bolted to a frame, monocoque cars are lighter and stronger.

Carbon fibre monocoque - 39kg

Carbon fibre monocoque – 39kg

An aluminum alloy monocoque chassis was first used in the 1962 Lotus 25 F1 car. McLaren was the first to use carbon-fibre-reinforced polymers for the monocoque of the 1981 McLaren MP4, and in 1992 the McLaren F1 became the first production car with a carbon fibre monocoque. We have chosen to use a carbon fibre monocoque in our car because it has a very high strength-to-weight ratio and doesn’t corrode. Ultimately we plan to manufacture our own carbon fibre shells, here in Wales and, owing to their almost indestructible nature, we may even recycle them into new models in the long term.

3 – Mass Decompounding

Mass Decompounding is the overall design process, sometimes called vehicle light weighting, in which we minimize weight across of all component parts of the car in a way that maintains overall integrity. It’s a basic principle to Riversimple design – lightness, flexibility, intelligent use of technology, great performance and minimal environmental impact.
We can’t show you the finished car just yet, but here are a few of the highlights.

Energy Efficiency – 250 mpg (equivalent)

Emissions – Less than 40g CO2 (well to wheel), zero at tailpipe

Range – 300 miles