Fully Charged Features The Riversimple Rasa And Its Innovative Business Model

MAY 29 2016 BY MARK KANE 30

Fully Charged recently visited the Riversimple Movement in Llandrindod Wells, Wales to check out the ultra-light, two-seater Rasa.

Riversimple Rasa

Riversimple Rasa

The Riversimple Rasa has four in-wheel motors, and a tiny hydrogen fuel cell stack, which enables it to maintain a top speed of over 60 mph over long distances.

The most interesting part of the episode itself was the talk about the company’s business model during the test drive.

Riversimple intends to offer its vehicles under a subscription that covers all repairs, maintenance, insurance and hydrogen expenses.

Moreover Riversimple would like to use the subscription-based model not only for consumers, but also for suppliers – paying for use of the fuel cell stack by counting kWhs.

The benefit of such model would be the necessity to develop the most efficient and reliable, long-lasting components to make car viable for Riversimple and its partners.

Says Fully Charged:

“An extraordinary company, headed by an extraordinary man.  Riversimple (has) a plan, and it completely changes the accepted model of the automotive industry.

Sell lots of cars, make sure it costs a lot to keep them going, make sure people pay for fuel.  No one can buy a Riversimple car, but you could pay to use one, and you’d never pay for fuel or repairs.”

Quick specs:

  • total curb weight of just 580 kg (1,279 lbs)
  • up to 300 miles on 1.5kg of hydrogen
  • fuel economy equivalent to 250mpg
  • small 8.5kW fuel cell
  • four electric motors for AWD
  • top speed of 60 mph (nearly 100 km/h)

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30 Comments on "Fully Charged Features The Riversimple Rasa And Its Innovative Business Model"

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SJC

A small car under 2000 pounds with a 12kW stack holding 3 kg of H2 could work, once H2 stations are around.

Chris

Who would put up with 60 mph top speed for long trips?

Kdawg

Get rid of the hydrgoen tank and put a 22kWh (or more) battery in there. Don’t really need the capacitors either as the battery could easily absorb 50kW of regen braking.

jerryd

Kdog, especially when it would give this car 200 mile range as likely under 100wthr/mile.
That and fast charging would cost much less and better.

Just_Chris

I know the comments here are going to decend into childish mud slinging but you’ve got a pretty good comparison there.

What you are talking about is a smart car – 600kg before battery and a 20ish kWh usable battery pack. Yes you could limit the top speed, add 4 wheel regen and change the aero but you’ll still only be getting about half the range of this car and have to charge for 30 min as a minimum. You’d also probably have issues with battery life if you exclusively fast charged. None of that is a problem for me, I’m just about to get in my 2012 leaf that charged last night to go to work but I could understand the above could be an issue for others. The caps will also be able to handle 10 times more cycles and not require any temperature control.

Kdawg

Studies have shown that fast charging doesn’t affect battery longevity.

It can take 10-15 minutes to refuel w/hydrogen, and also add the time to drive to/from a station.

Just_Chris

and Nissan also got into trouble in the USA because of people fast charging the leaf on hot days leading to excessive battery degradation. 10-15 min to fill a 6.3 kg tank to 700 bar (equivalent to charging over 100kWh battery) not a 1.5kg tank to 350 bar.

Fundamentally when comparing fuel cells to batteries what you are comparing is a technology that is a lot less efficient but allows faster charging, to a technology that is far more efficient but takes longer to charge. If you want to drive your car for a week and then fill it up then it can be done more easily with a vehicle that takes a fuel.

Kdawg

Batteries don’t like heat. Fast charging is OK. Shame on Nissan for not liquid cooling the battery.

Willie McKemie

I’m not sure how much, if any, of Nissan’s battery trouble was due to fast charging. My Leaf’s battery was ruined in it’s second year and I did not have the chademo option. At that time, 2012 I believe, chademo charge stations were very rare.

nwdiver

Right… as was mentioned… it’s heat not fast charging that’s the problem; Fast charging is the largest but not the only source of heat. Regular driving heats up the battery too. EV batteries really need to be liquid cooled to last.

zzzzzzzzzz

You armchair engineers are not good at arithmetic. Try to calculate how much your 22 kWh battery would weight and cost. Especially LTO battery that can take charge at acceptable rate. Hint: it is too heavy & big to be usable for such car and too expensive comparing to hydrogen-air “battery”.

Kdawg

Fits in the Spark EV. Put it in the floor.

Kdawg

And my Volt’s 17kWh battery can take 60kW of regen.

SJC

“You armchair engineers are not good at arithmetic.”

NOT a good way to start a friendly constructive discussion.

Chris

The Volt weighs twice this car

super390

Based on the lithium-ion batteries that Tesla will likely use on the Model 3, maybe 200 pounds, under the floor where it helps the handling. I mean, Americans aren’t going to buy a 1200 pound car anyway. And these performance specs are a waste of good aerodynamics. I’m amazed these guys didn’t put in a bigger fuel cell, but then try to get unbiased numbers on the cost of those.

Pushmi-Pullyu

zzzzzzzzzz said:

“You armchair engineers are not good at arithmetic.”

Our arithmetic is just fine. Your science isn’t.

If you actually believe that a hydrogen-powered car can ever be practical, then you are a physics denier.

Paul Smith

How much weight would 22KWh of batteries add to the butterfly weight car? Now would you need to increase the strength of the chassis etc?

Kdawg

“Riversimple (has) a plan, and it completely changes the accepted model of the automotive industry.”
“Riversimple intends to offer its vehicles under a subscription that covers all repairs, maintenance, insurance and hydrogen expenses.”
——-
This isn’t new. You can do this now with ZipCar or Maven.

Joshua Burstyn

I am curious to hear from people about car ownership versus car leasing or rental. Myself I feel highly prejudiced against leasing or rental. I enjoy owning, maintaining and using a personal vehicle and would feel a loss in giving up ownership of my transportation even though objectively it makes total sense to let someone else deal with maintenance, insurance and depreciation.

Thoughts on this increasingly adopted paradigm?

Just_Chris

When I lived in London I didn’t own a car I took public transport everywhere, cycled and hired a car/van when I needed. That was nearly 20 years ago and felt totally normal.

London is a bit of a weird case because it is so dense but I think people will change their behaviour when it is easy to do so. I think if you live somewhere that means you need to drive once a day or more you’ll probably still have a car but who knows if the choice is driving a shared tesla every day or an old rusty ice I would learn to share pretty quickly.

Rob

I’ve always worked hard for my money, no REALLY!
And when I spend it I like to have something to show for it, plus, if you get short, you can always sell it.
Those are the two reasons why I’d never lease ANYTHING, especially a car!

By all means offer the leasing option, but let those who want to buy, buy…

wavelet

The major example of this car-as-subscription-service was Better Place. Under their scheme, the driver would pay for a mileage plan per year, not electricity. Nothing new in that.

Pushmi-Pullyu

I too thought of Better Place as I read this article. From the first time I read of (Project) Better Place I knew that it would never succeed, as the startup costs for building out the battery swap network were much too high for the company to ever recoup by selling subscriptions.

If a scheme to rent/lease hydrogen powered cars were dependent on the company building its own hydrogen fueling stations, the business plan would be even more impossible. Of course they don’t plan to build those themselves. They must rely on others building them, which in reality won’t ever happen in sufficient numbers for such cars to be practical, because the per-car cost is much, much too high. And even if it cost nothing to build such stations, the cost of the H2 fuel itself is also much too high to ever compete with either electricity or gasoline/diesel.

Promoting “fool cell” cars makes about as much sense as promoting perpetual motion. Both would require the laws of physics to be repealed in order to become practical.

CDAVIS

“Riversimple intends to offer its vehicles under a subscription that covers all repairs, maintenance, insurance and [fuel] hydrogen expenses.”
——-

I already get that using Uber…and it’s available in most cities I travel to…and it also covers parking and washing car.

Terawatt

Audi too once used to speak of how, in the future, they’d be selling transportation as a service, not cars as products. This was back when the A2 launched and (quite silly!) used to defend the lack of a user serviceable engine bay.

The fact the idea isn’t new doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile or interesting. There’s always differences in the details, and sometimes a little difference makes all the difference…

I am surprised a man who otherwise spoke much sense has chosen a fuel cell stack. He bragged about how efficient the car is, but surely must know that with this propulsion the overall efficiency from solar/wind to wheel is going to suck – an electric RAV4 easily beating it!

zzzzzzzzzz

They only problem in your logic is that you can’t connect electric RAV4 to solar/wind. Especially in London. You need electric grid that balances intermittent solar/wind supply with natural gas and coal fossil fuel plants, so that you would be able to charge it at any time. Try calculating RAV4 EV efficiency when you burn imported natural gas in 30-50% efficient power plant and send it electric grid that is so “efficient” that it results in around 0.20 USD/kWh price for residential customer in London. Hint: even steam reforming is more efficient, and hydrogen from electrolysis doesn’t require grid balancing either.

But Musk has told us that it must be easy-peasy to charge battery in fine January evening from moonlight using frosted PV panel, so it must be absolute true. Don’t let logic and fool cells to shake your firm belief!

Moose

Sorry dude

1. You can’t compare current grid to a future, best case green dream.

2. Dirty power generation is a grid issue and should be handled as such. Not a vehicle issue. The same actually goes for steam reforming, to you credit. It can’t be regulated at vehicle level.

3. Electricity is very easy to import or export. So you can get your solar, wind, hydro or, if you bent that way, nuclear fix even in dead winter.

BEVs will always be more efficient than fuel cells. Always.

zzzzzzzzzz
> 1. You can’t compare current grid to a future, best case green dream. Battery cars are fine, but they don’t help future green dream grid and green energy at all. Zero. Nil. Hydrogen helps. And not just electric grid. Most energy is used not for electric grid – people typically don’t use electric heating in North for good reason. > 2. Dirty power generation is a grid issue and should be handled as such. Not a vehicle issue. The same actually goes for steam reforming, to you credit. It can’t be regulated at vehicle level. Yes sure, you can just dump garbage on the road and it is not my issue. Or dump waste into atmosphere and it is not my issue. But you really don’t need any battery cars either with such attitude. > 3. Electricity is very easy to import or export. So you can get your solar, wind, hydro or, if you bent that way, nuclear fix even in dead winter. ;))) Obviously you never got into numbers how “easy” it is and how much HVDC lines cost and how unreliable they are. Germany tried it at very low level, their solar/wind penetration is far below… Read more »
Someone out there

People overestimate the importance of quick refuelling. This is a small city car, it won’t be driven more than maybe a couple of tens of miles per day which could easily be handled by a 20 kWh battery. Replacing the fuel cell system with such a battery would add maybe 100 kg weight at most but would be a lot cheaper to run. This car and the business model does not make much sense at all.