Behind the excitement surrounding the forthcoming launch of the Riversimple Fuel Cell Car, are a specialised team of engineers, designers and business professionals. We are real people, working through a pivotal time for Riversimple, each with different skills and experience to bring to the table.
At the moment, everything is focused upon bringing new (disruptive) fuel cell technology to market, but the Riversimple Mk2 is part of a bigger picture – the changing requirements of day to day transport and the nature of the business model that underpins it. Riversimple’s purpose is “to pursue, systematically, the elimination of the environmental impact of personal transport”. Everything we do – the design of the car, the structure of the business, the people we work with – is in pursuit of this goal.
We have attracted some top talent
For example, Estelle Clark joined us recently to take a new business leadership role as the Steward. Estelle is past Chairman of the Chartered Quality Institute, taking a short secondment as their Head of Profession, before returning as Chairman. She is also Chairman of the Technical & Advisory Board of Lloyds Register Quality Assurance with a particular focus on quality, safety, sustainability and innovation. She joined Lloyd’s Register in 2007 and was previously Group Director of Safety & Business Assurance, responsible for making sure that the organisation was effective in delivering their strategic ambitions whilst managing business risk. We are extremely fortunate to have Estelle at Riversimple, taking on a new and challenging role helping to shape the business as it develops.
Riversimple ‘s Operating Board is chaired by another new member of the team, Guy Battle. We are delighted to welcome Guy to Riversimple. Following on from a high profile role at Deloitte, Guy founded the Sustainable Business Partnership which is focussed upon ‘unlocking the inherent opportunities and social, environmental and financial value creation when sustainability is integrated into business’. Guy brings top quality business, sustainability and leadership skills to the Riversimple board; Hugo Spowers sits on the board as Company Architect, Fiona Spowers as Head of Communications and Jeff Loo as Finance Director.
Jeff was previously Finance Director at The Guardian.
We live in a connected world
Brand and consumer relations have an inherent value to business. What people care about matters, the environment and the future matter, genuine business ethics matter. And since the internet, in particular, has provided the perfect medium for revealing ethical malpractice, the customer has new information and choice at his/her fingertips and is even more powerful. And so, even from the view of purely financial returns, it is both relevant and important to explore how businesses make decisions – how they will be judged – and where we place environmental and social accountability in the commercial business model.
Complementary to the board, are the 6 business “Custodians”. Each Custodian represents a different stakeholder group – there is a Custodian representing investors, another representing commercial partners, a third Custodian represents the environment, a fourth the local community/neighbours, a fifth Custodian represents customers and a sixth Custodian represents staff. The 6 Custodians all contribute equally and together enhance the quality of decision making and the resilience of the business.
We are selling mobility as a service
Just as Riversimple engineers have reconciled complex engineering challenges to create simple, elegant and efficient energy flow in the car; and designer Chris Reitz has created a futuristic design that is both streamlined and practical; so the business Custodians, Steward and Board are committed to transforming (potentially conflicting) business aspirations and constraints into competitive advantage.
Selling mobility as a service is a great example. When we decided to replace car sales with performance contracts of 1 to 3 years, Riversimple turned conflict – cost of car vs sustainability of components and supply chain – into a business advantage. Now we can afford to bring new technology on to the market at a price that is competitive. And, meanwhile, the lasting quality of the cars is translated into profit, whilst the unsustainable practice of “designing for obsolescence” – in other words deliberately designing cars that the customer will soon wish to replace – is no longer a business necessity.
The automotive industry is entering a period of change the like of which we have not experienced for over 100 years. The focus on incremental adjustments – engineering optimisation – is now challenged by step changes in electric vehicle design; by cleaner technology; by a new architecture to house new power sources; and by new business models
We believe that Whole System Design is relevant and important. We believe in the simplicity beyond complexity. We believe in a business model that is fit for the future.