You can now help make this hydrogen car a reality – but you’ll never own one

You can now help make this hydrogen car a reality – but you’ll never own one
Credit: Riversimple

The Riversimple Rasa wowed TNW when it unveiled a lightweight, zero-emission, no-gears, hand-built prototype hydrogen fuel cell car in February designed by one of the chief designers behind the Fiat 500.

It isn’t faster than a Tesla, but it’s already got better range and lots of other rather interesting things going for it.

The Welsh company has today launched an equity crowdfunding round offering up 7.5 percent of the company in order to help bring the car to life, initially asking for £1 million ($1.4 million) to “develop [the] car for customer readiness.”

A further million will help them build and run 10 beta test cars, with another million needed for 10 more cars.

Riversimple has already won a grant of €2 million ($2.3 million) from the European Union and is hoping to match fund that with cash from the public.

Of course, it’s a little unusual to invest in a crowdfund for a product that you can never actually own, the Rasa will only ever be available on a “subscription” model, but that’s part of what makes the idea unique.

You wouldn’t believe how much money Hugo [Spowers, founder] was offered for a Rasa car – but it is not part of the business plan. The Riversimple Rasa fuel cell car will be available on subscription as a complete and cost-transparent service. It’s a lighter, simpler transport option for customers and it leads to a longer term business relationship with a number of significant advantages. Above all it is disruptive, turning the traditional business incentive to design cars for obsolescence on its head. In fact, when you sell “mobility” as a service the business incentive is to design cars for longevity, low running costs and sustainability.

That means that, rather than paying $42,000 for a Tesla that doesn’t yet exist but will be old as soon as it’s parked on your drive, you could get your hands, for a limited time, on a Rasa. The company covers all running costs when you join, which it says incentivizes it to make better cars.

Here’s an outline of the business model.

Shares are priced at £10 ($14), with a minimum purchase of five in the first round.

For £500 ($706), the company is offering tickets to the London Motor Show, with the only other incentive offered for cash given above £100,000 ($141,298), which gets you lifetime “usership” (vs ownership, to coin the term) of a Rasa beta model.

You’ll also get to name one of the cars. Too right, really.

Given that all of the manufacturing will be done locally, the company only has plans to build a maximum of 5,000 cars every year.

So if you’re planning on sticking your hand in your wallet, it’s worth doing the math on how much you could conceivably make on your investment.

It’s also worth remembering that, even more so than electric vehicles, the fuelling infrastructure is not in place to support these kinds of cars yet. But when it is, it’ll take just three minutes to fill your tank with compressed hydrogen.

And with big names like Toyota, Nissan and Honda exploring this kind of fuel technology already, and plans for them to collaborate on gas stations, this tiny Welsh machine might yet be an early leader in the new ‘good’ car market.

As with all crowdfunding campaigns, buyer beware. The Ts & Cs as you head to make your investment aim to make it super-clear that this is not a ‘get rich quick’ scheme. Indeed, you could come away with nothing.

Invest in a company that is driven differently on Riversimple

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