Riversimple LLP signs an agreement with the city of Leicester in the U.K. that will see 30 2-seat, hydrogen-powered cars take to the streets for a 12-month trial involving fleets, car-share schemes and private customers.
Leicester and Riversimple will cooperate to recruit customers to test drive the vehicles and locate and staff a suitable refueling point.
Riversimple says its hydrogen-powered car has a top speed of 50 mph (80 km/h) with a range of 240 miles (400 km) and can accelerate from 0-30 mph (48 km/h), in 5.5 seconds. It has a bodyshell made from composite materials.
‚ÄúWe expect it to achieve the equivalent of 300 mpg (0.78 L/100 km),‚ÄĚ Riversimple says in a statement.
The Riversimple car uses an 8-hp (6-kw) hydrogen fuel cell to create the electricity needed to power motors attached to each wheel. The vehicle emits a trickle of water from its exhaust.
The company will lease the cars to Leicester motorists for ¬£200-¬£250 ($295-$368) a month.
If the trial proves successful, Riversimple says it will look at setting up a factory in Leicester with capacity for 5,000 hydrogen-powered vehicles annually.
‚ÄúWe need to harness cutting-edge technology to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels to tackle climate change,‚ÄĚ U.K. Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne says in a statement.
‚ÄúNowhere is this more important than with passenger cars, which are responsible for almost 60% of domestic transport emissions. A radical transformation of our transport network is needed in the next 40 years.‚ÄĚ
In Australia, Melbourne‚Äôs The Age newspaper reports Riversimple officials are to visit the country to explore trials of the vehicles there.
They will discuss the initiative with the National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, Victoria's Department of Technology and Deakin University.
The Age says the car‚Äôs design is to be deemed open source and available for free use on the web, allowing entrepreneurs around the world to download the designs and manufacture the 2-seat prototype.
Riversimple says it is planning a second round of fund raising, aiming to acquire about ¬£20 million ($29.4 million) with support from London-based investment banks Innovator Capital Ltd. and Sustainable Development Capital LLP.