Riversimple: Leave It To A Pich . . .

Martin Schwoerer
by Martin Schwoerer

Hydrogen-fueled propulsion has been the Next Big Thing since the 1970s. Recently, it has also been assigned to the past, at least by US Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who said, “We’re going to be moving away from hydrogen-fuel cells for vehicles.” Thus, hydrogen propulsion seems to be one of those things that are everywhere in the time-space continuum except in the present. Some hydrofans are refusing to give up, though. VW’s evil genius boss of bosses, Ferdinand Piëch, has a nephew, Sebastian Piëch, who is a grandson of Ferdinand Porsche. Seb seems to be a smart, rich guy who speaks four languages, has an engineering and marketing background and lives in Shanghai and Tokyo. He’s a big name among big names at Riversimple, an alternative-car company which recently presented its first car in London. If Piëch had a monkey-man slogan, it’d be “ideas, ideas, ideas.”

In fact, Riversimple is so full of ideas you’d might as well say they’re not just selling a vehicle—they’re selling Ideaware. Here are some examples: Open-source development; a carbon fiber body which weighs only 350kg; a leasing-only sales model which includes all-you-can eat hydrogen fuel, at £200.00 per month; an inexpensive, off-the-shelf fuel cell that only supplies 6kW (for cruising speeds only) to power the miniscule electric motor; supercapacitors for acceleration which are charged by the fuel cell and by regenerated braking energy; and a cooperative agreement with a major liquid-hydrogen supplier to provide a network of filling stations in England.

Nobody dislikes armchair engineers who specialize in snark more than I do. But in this case, skepticism seems to be in order. Firstly, why hydrogen for a strictly urban vehicle? Urban areas are the domain, par excellence, of

electrics, aren’t they? Next: According to Wired, Riversimple claims to use available technology and is not just another hydrogen pipe dream. Then why is the planned date of introduction in 2013? Have they solved the inherent vibration and cold-climate problems of the fuel cell? Why expect people to sign a 20-year lease (part of the concept which makes the rate affordable) if they haven’t?

And about the open-source concept. Are car engineers similar to software developers in that they accept pro bono work? And have copyright laws really hindered automotive progress? If not, then what’s the point of an open-source car? Riversimple or Reallynerdy?

Martin Schwoerer
Martin Schwoerer

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  • Martin Schwoerer Martin Schwoerer on Jun 24, 2009

    menjo, you're right, I should have written battery-powered electric. David: sorry, I deal too much in forex. Oops yet another bit of jargon. I didn't use the £ because there are lots of pound currencies out there. But I should have. At least written GB£. My apology. Why not blame the editor, doggone it!

  • Robert Schwartz Robert Schwartz on Jun 24, 2009

    6 KW. That is almost 9 hp. I say its a golf cart.

  • Roger hopkins The car is in Poland??? It does look good tho...
  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X The push for EV's is part of the increase in our premiums. Any damage near the battery pack and the car is a total loss.
  • Geozinger Up until recently this was on my short list of cars to replace my old car. However, it didn't pass the "knee test" with my wife as her bad knee makes it difficult for her to get in and out of a sedan. I saw a number of videos about the car and it seems like the real deal as a sporting sedan. In addition I like the low price, too, but it was bad luck/timing that we didn't get to pull the trigger on this one.
  • ToolGuy I agree with everyone here. Of course there are exceptions to what I just said, don't take everything so literally. The important thing is that I weighed in with my opinion, which is helping to move things forward. I believe we can all agree that I make an important contribution (some will differ, that is their prerogative). A stitch in time saves nine. Life isn't fair, you know. I have more to say but will continue at our next meeting. You can count on that, for I am a man of my word. We will make it happen. There might be challenges. I mean, it is what it is. This too shall pass. All we can do is all we can do. These meetings are never really long enough for me to completely express all the greatness within me, are they? Let's meet to discuss. All in a day's work. After all, Rome wasn't built in a day. At the end of the day, I must say I agree with you. I think you will agree. When all is said and done, there is more said than done. But of course that is just one man's opinion. You are free to disagree. As I like to say...(I am working on my middle management skills -- how am I doing?)
  • Golden2husky Have to say he did an excellent job on the C7, especially considering the limited budget he was given. I am very happy with my purchase.