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.