The capabilities of the first production prototype hydrogen fuel cell car developed by Riversimple were outlined to Economy Minister Edwina Hart during a visit to their R&D headquarters in Llandrindod Wells.
The company, which now employs 23 people, provided the Minister with an update on their progress and explained their pioneering business model and route to market. Riversimple launched the new vehicle rolling chassis at the Low Carbon Vehicle Event last month where it attracted a great deal of interest
The £3.5m project is backed by £2million research, development and innovation funding from the Welsh Government and Mrs Hart described it as an exciting project with great potential to deliver long term economic benefits to Wales.
Next year the company hopes to build twenty cars for a twelve month public trial, with future plans for volume production - at a location yet to be decided - that could create 220 jobs assembling 5000 cars a year.
The two seater local network electric car under development - and still under wraps - has a strong, light weight carbon fibre monocoque normally reserved for racing cars and high-end supercars.
Hugo Spowers, Technical Director and founder of Riversimple said the car will be nippy, fuel efficient, stylish and distinctive. It is being designed by Chris Reitz, one of Europe’s most respected car designers with a track record having been design director at Fiat and Alfa Romeo.
It is powered by hydrogen fuel cells, with a regenerative braking system to recapture energy that will be stored in a bank of super-capacitors to provide most of the power for acceleration.
The aim is for groundbreaking energy efficiency equivalent of around 250 mpg with a range of 300 miles, 0-50mph in 8 secs and a top speed of around 55-60 mph.
The Minister said:
"This is exactly the type of advanced R&D technology investment we want to attract. I am delighted Wales is hosting this next stage of development, which is already creating highly skilled jobs with the potential for many more."
The production prototype will be a road-going working model to demonstrate the design and technical advances, when further design refinements will be incorporated for volume production.
Mr Spowers said Welsh Government support was absolutely critical to get to this stage.
“We would not have been able to do it without this support as funding is very hard to find to bring something genuinely new to market.”