back to article Brits unveil 'revolutionary' hydrogen-powered car

A UK startup is banking on a hydrogen-powered automotive future with its "Rasa" - a "revolutionary" vehicle whose production prototype hit the streets earlier this week. Featuring a carbon-fibre monocoque frame, four electric motors powered by an 8.5 kW hydrogen fuel cell and regenerative braking, the Rasa (as in "tabula …

  1. Known Hero
    Thumb Up

    Sounds great !

    Where do I put the shopping kids dogs ?

    I could imagine this making more progress had it been a standard size car that would be slightly more multi purpose.

    its a pity but Either way Great progress :)

    1. Geoff Campbell

      Re: Sounds great !

      I think it needs a good re-packaging, tuck everything away nicely to create room for a small boot at the back, and at the same time redesign the rear end to make it rather less eye-searingly ugly.

      So, a good first step, certainly. If they can produce one with room for three bags of shopping, and some means of fuelling up (perhaps a solar/wind powered electrolysis plant at home?), it would make a good second car for our use.

      GJC

      1. Ledswinger Silver badge

        Re: Sounds great !

        and at the same time redesign the rear end to make it rather less eye-searingly ugly.

        The original design inspiration had a different design at the back. You remember, the three wheeler that Goldmember used to escape from Austin Powers.

        1. Charles Manning

          Ugly, no.

          This is just attempt to do a "retro car". Like VW's new beetle, Fiat's new 600, ...

          This is just the Brits' new Reliant Robin.

          1. Munzly The Hermit

            Re: Ugly, no.

            No, more like the Bond Bug. Nearly bought one of those, 'til I sobered up!

          2. Down not across

            Re: Ugly, no.

            This is just the Brits' new Reliant Robin.

            Funny you should say that. That is exactly the first thing that I came to mind.

            Strange, it looks nothing like it but my brain insisted "That's a bloody Reliant Robin!".

            Except its truly disgusting looking. At least Robin had some charm (or amusement factor) and you could fit some luggage/cargo in it.

            Performance is on par with Robin as well. Ok Robin didn't quite make 3 digit mpg I don't think.

            1. x 7 Silver badge

              Re: Ugly, no.

              four wheels, so a Kitten, not a Robin

      2. Yesnomaybe

        Re: Sounds great !

        http://www.autozine.org/Archive/Saab/classic/92.html

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Sounds great !

        "redesign the rear end to make it rather less eye-searingly ugly."

        I was thinking that too. Then I remembered the horrible boxy cars we had 30 years ago and we thought they looked "cool" then. Maybe in 20 years this car will be seen as perfectly normal. There's no accounting for taste :-)

        It's also rather reminiscent of the "future cars" from old SciFi, especially from the 50's and 60's, but also see the cars as driven by Col. Straker in UFO

        Then again, they thought women on moon-base would be wearing silver miniskirts and purple wigs and men in submarines would wear string vests :-)

    2. alain williams Silver badge

      Re: Sounds great !

      I don't think that it did sound great. Why can't they make promotional videos without having some noise as backing ? Just show the car - don't hurt our ears with rubbish!

    3. ZanzibarRastapopulous Silver badge

      Re: Sounds great !

      Once upon a time that was a standard size for a car.

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Sounds great !

        Once upon a time that was a standard size for a car.

        I can't readily find the car's dimensions on their site, but once upon the time you refer to, cars that size had four seats while some even managed six (Fiat 600 Multipla), not two.

      2. StudeJeff

        Re: Sounds great !

        Maybe on your side of the pond!

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sounds great !

      re. shopping kids dogs - you got it all wrong, this is when a technology is waaaay matured. Now it's for those i-trend-setters with excess cash but short of ideas how to spend it. And look, you can link to facebook!

      p.s. all that said, it's good people are trying this and that, sooner or later one technology takes root...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sounds great !

        it's good people are trying this and that, sooner or later one technology takes root

        Not if it's looking this fugly. I assume the design will have been accompanied by statements like "a fusion of future design and aerodynamics", but fugly is far more efficient in conveying how it looks.

        The very first thing you must consider when you attempt a change is that you make it incremental. Massive change, also known as a revolution, is usually accompanied by a lot of blood, and is typically executed by people who lack any green credentials.

        1. Fraggle850

          Re: Sounds great !

          Yup, one fugly motherhubbard

          I don't see it panning out for the boyos behind this:

          1) no hydrogen infrastructure

          2) there are much bigger players already in this field, Mercedes, at least one of the big Japanese automakers

          3) hydrogen production only scales if it is done by cracking hydrocarbons using large amounts of energy

          You can forget all your yoghurt weaving notions of doing it with renewables and electrolysis of water. It's not just about liberating the hydrogen, takes a shitload of energy to compress it to the point where it has reasonable energy density.

          Nice idea but best left to the big boys.

          1. Robin

            Re: Sounds great !

            1) no hydrogen infrastructure

            2) there are much bigger players already in this field, Mercedes, at least one of the big Japanese automakers

            3) hydrogen production only scales if it is done by cracking hydrocarbons using large amounts of energy

            1 and 3 also apply to 2, surely? So that leaves your main argument as them having to give it up because bigger companies are already doing it?

            1. Fraggle850

              Re: Sounds great !

              Not necessarily.

              If 1) were solved then 2) would be less of a problem, 3) was more me hinting at the un-greeness of these apparently eco-friendly ideas.

              Unless, what you actually meant to say was '2 applies to 1 and 3, surely?' In which case guilty as charged but it doesn't mean that there is no point in me listing each separately because each is it's own challenge (and 3 provides me with a jumping off point to have a go at the yoghurt weavers)

            2. The First Dave

              Re: Sounds great !

              The thing about point (2) is that the likes of Mercedes have the financial clout to be able to fix point (1) if they need to, but no doubt they will do so in a unique way that means smaller companies cannot share...

          2. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

            Re: Sounds great !

            How soluble is it in natural gas?

            I presume that turning it into clathrates would render it inoperable?

            Good storage stats for that though, I imagine. What it need is a frame made of 3 inch tubing and flat running boards. Add a seat and a steering device and you have a London utility vehicle. Putting pedals on it will allow you to illegally get away with using it on a pavement. Or at least the cycle lanes.

            Can someone help me get out of here? my whole day is setting.

    5. This post has been deleted by its author

    6. MatsSvensson

      Re: Sounds great !

      shopping kids dogs ?

      Where were going, we wont need shopping kids dogs!

      *ZOOOOM*

    7. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: Sounds great !

      Where do I put the shopping kids dogs ?

      Or a Pink Panther?

      Plenty of room in this

      http://www.carbodydesign.com/2011/09/panthermobile-goes-to-auction/

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7r8h-I_GPPA

    8. Martin Budden

      Re: Sounds great !

      Original post downvoted because literally millions of small two-seaters have already been sold to happy customers all over the world. Not everyone wants a "standard size car".

  2. JimmyPage Silver badge

    This concept is described as <shudder> "mobility as a service".

    Which is where we're headed anyway, with autonomous cars. Even if private ownership of an autonomous car will be possible, the rewards for people who pimp out their cars in their downtime (e.g 10:00-16:00 weekdays when they are at work, and 19:00-06:00 when they are at home) will blur the boundaries further.

    However, for MrsJP, whose sight isn't good enough to drive, the idea of mobility as a service isn't as cringeworthy as the (presumably fully able) author suggests.

    Where's the "bring it on" icon ?

    1. Michael Thibault

      Re: This concept is described as <shudder> "mobility as a service".

      >Which is where we're headed anyway, with autonomous cars.

      I'd wager that XaaS (where x='just about anything') is where we're ultimately heading. Stability of fortunes depends on predictable flows of revenue, so there's an incentive (structure looming) for manufacturers to create objects with a reliably-knowable, but limited, lifetime and--instead of selling the object--renting the services provided by that object.

      Of possible interest, if only to illustrate the seed-crystal of the relevant mindset:

      @eff.org 'Federal Circuit: Patent Owners Can Prevent You from Owning Anything'

      The move toward requiring manufacturers to shoulder some of the costs of recycling their wares inclines in the same general direction: if manufacturers build in the Nexus-6 quality, and never actually relinquish title to the object (instead charging for the services the object provides), they end up already owning the necessary resources that go into later versions of what they produce. There's even an incentive for them to build in recyclability, to streamline the whole process of converting their old kit into new kit. The game then becomes a game like Risk, where the territory is the entire relevant resource space.

    2. P. Lee Silver badge

      Re: This concept is described as <shudder> "mobility as a service".

      >Even if private ownership of an autonomous car will be possible, the rewards for people who pimp out their cars in their downtime

      This will be marginal if everyone needs their own car to get to work, as everyone would have a car to pimp out - massive oversupply and little demand. The days of half the population staying at home to keep the household going are over, courtesy of deregulated mortgage markets. I suspect the largest impact would be on public transport, with demand for buses dropping to zilch due to some autonomous car/Uber combination. That's assuming you can easily remove all the soft furnishings and so on to prevent them being sloshed with beer, ripped off or otherwise rendered unpleasant by "the neerdowells who don't have a job."

      It would probably kill off the courier market. Amazon's dream come true as you can send your car to the warehouse to pick the dongle up.

  3. AIBailey

    I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but...

    He's an ugly little spud, isn't he.

    1. Geoff Campbell
      Happy

      Re: I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but...

      Designed by engineers, would be my guess.

      GJC

      1. DropBear Silver badge

        Re: I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but...

        "Designed by engineers, would be my guess."

        Not a chance, they would have come up with something largely unremarkable, probably. To do properly ugly, you need a proper designer...

      2. Kubla Cant Silver badge

        Re: I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but...

        Why does every mad concept car have to have gull-wing doors?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but...

          Why does every mad concept car have to have gull-wing doors?

          To keep you awake by letting the rain water dribble down the back of your neck when the door doesn't close properly.

          1. John 209
            FAIL

            Re: I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but...

            "Why does every mad concept car have to have gull-wing doors?"

            To insure that none of the occupants escape hydrogen immolation in the case of a roll over, would be my guess. That is, to eliminate the potentially noisiest complainers.

            Since the days of the mighty M 300 SL gullwing, they just haven't been able to resist it.

        2. Geoff Campbell

          Re: Gull-wing doors

          I think that gull-wing doors give easier access for a small opening in the body. Just a guess, though.

          GJC

          1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

            Re: Gull-wing doors

            I think that gull-wing doors give easier access for a small opening in the body.

            As long as you don't need to open them in the garage, or after you've rolled the gadget...

        3. G R Goslin

          Re: I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but...

          What do you do to exit the car, once you've driven it into the garage? Remove the rear window, and crawl out?

      3. PNGuinn Silver badge
        Flame

        Re: I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but...

        Designed by designed by some whalesong and jostick group after a particularly bad nightmare, a cheese supper and violent overdosing on something nasty you mean.

        An engineer might have made it a bit ugly, but he'd have made the shape practical.

        ---> icon - burn it with fire before all the hydrogen evaporates.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but...

        "Designed by engineers, would be my guess."

        There's a garage near us is currently restoring a real air-cooled 911 Turbo. Now that's designed by engineers, and in its day it could practically cause spontaneous orgasms in both sexes. It still looks pretty good.

        This thing has been designed by aerodynamicists, which is a whole other ball game, if you see what I mean.

    2. Halfmad

      Re: I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but...

      There's something about that dashboard that reminds me of my classic mini.

      Just saying.. externally though it's hideous.

      1. wurdsmiff

        Re: I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but...

        Looks to me like the offspring of a Mini Marcos and a Mk 1 Honda Insight.

        Certainly 'interesting' looking

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but...

          Oh, I don't know. It has a certain panache about it.

          1. ravenviz Silver badge

            Re: I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but...

            Love the Bungle-fur inside the SHADO car!

            1. JustNiz

              Re: I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but...

              >> Love the Bungle-fur inside the SHADO car!

              You Sir earned my utmost respect and a mod point just for finding a credible way to mention both Rainbow and UFO in a single 7 word post.

        2. Peter Simpson 1
          Thumb Up

          Re: I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but...

          Looks like there was a Citroen in the woodpile...

          1. itzman

            Re: Looks like there was a Citroen in the woodpile

            I'd say the offspring of a Citroen and a VW beetle with a touch of Zaka virus thrown in.

    3. hplasm Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but...

      It looks a bit futury- in a '70s way.

    4. big_D Silver badge

      Re: I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but...

      I think someone in the design department saw too many 1950s Detroit documentaries.

    5. Joe Gurman

      Re: I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but...

      I'm certain the butt ugliness will help sales.

    6. The First Dave

      Re: I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but...

      Is this meant to be amphibious?

    7. Eddy Ito Silver badge

      Re: I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but...

      It's clearly got that anything to minimize aerodynamic drag look to it. Then again with less than 12 horsepower from the fuel cell they aren't really able to do the slightly pointed brick that is a minivan and still be able to approach highway speeds. No, I get the feeling that this is the perfect car for commuting the way so many people do, alone with the occasional stop for coffee, milk, bread, etc. along the way. Forget stopping by Ikea for anything as even if it would fit it would likely be too heavy.

  4. lansalot

    What if you drive relatively smoothly and don't stand on the brakes at every junction..?

    1. chris 143

      Then your acceleration away from the junction will be fairly poor

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        I think it'll be the same - the regenerative brakes arnt winding up a rubber band - they are just salviging a bit of electricity and stuffing it back in the battery , probly losing about half along the way.

        1. Geoff Campbell

          Supercapacitors

          No battery. Power comes from the hydrogen fuel cell, plus supercapacitors which are charged up by braking. So, yes, braking energy is used to give better acceleration from a standstill.

          GJC

          1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

            Re: Supercapacitors - "No battery. ..plus supercapacitors"

            My guess is they think they are going to use supercapacitors because it is simpler than the complex battery management done by the firmware in e.g. a Prius. My other guess is that if it ever gets into production, they will use batteries.

            Serious vehicle manufacturers - Daimler, Toyota, BMW, GM, Honda - spend a lot of money and time on developing incremental improvements and debugging them. This vehicle is several relatively untried technologies all at the same time. It is to say the least a very brave engineering project. So was the atmospheric railway.

            1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

              Re: Supercapacitors - "No battery. ..plus supercapacitors"

              "

              My guess is they think they are going to use supercapacitors because it is simpler than the complex battery management done by the firmware

              "

              No, it's so they can handle the huge spurt of energy of regenerative braking. Batteries cannot take a large charge in such a short space of time.

              1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

                Re: Supercapacitors - "No battery. ..plus supercapacitors"

                "No, it's so they can handle the huge spurt of energy of regenerative braking. Batteries cannot take a large charge in such a short space of time."

                That's what they say, and that's why current regen can't handle full braking power. My point was that if the likes of Tesla/Daimler/BMW/Toyota/Honda haven't cracked it, I doubt that a small Welsh company will. Toyota's investment in hybrid technology over the years probably means there are quite small parts of the Prius that have had more R&D money spent on them than this entire car.

                I don't mean to be negative, but when it comes to vehicle powertrain R&D it is really hard, worse than rocket science (rockets don't have to travel on bumpy roads, or be reliable for 160000km).

                1. Stoneshop Silver badge

                  Re: Supercapacitors - "No battery. ..plus supercapacitors"

                  (rockets don't have to travel on bumpy roads, or be reliable for 160000km).

                  Hmm. I suspect the forces on a rocket (and its payload) during launch are well beyond what a Volvo is subjected to, hurtling down an potholed öljegrus road in northern Scandinavia. And reliable? You can't pull over with a spaceship and call roadside assistance if the engine goes phut.

            2. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

              Here is an original thought:

              Timing lights for traffic lights. Just think how a morning's stress build up will be factored out of a city commute if you knew exactly when the light are going to change. And how many gallons of fuel of all sorts would be left in the tank.

          2. Charles Manning

            Not hydrogen powered, just hydrogen storage

            All talk of supercapacitor powered, battery powered or hydrogen powered cars misses the point.

            None of these is fuel. The supercap, battery or hydrogen are just energy storage mediums and it would be as silly as saying that your petrol tank powered car is powered by the petrol tank. All we need is better petrol tanks.

            Hydrogen is either achieved by electrolysis (very inefficient process from leccy) or by breaking down hydrocarbons (wasting a whole lot of the energy in the hydrocarbons). Both are inefficient.

            Nor are the hydrogen combustion outputs just water. If burned, the hydrogen combustion still produces lots of yummy NOx by-products thanks to all the N in the air.

            Fuel cells are incredibly inefficient too - lots of waste heat.

            So where does all this leccy come from considering the NIMBYs don't want more power stations and all Western countries are right on the edge of their power generation capacity. Nor do they want huge rebuilds of the leccy grids that would be required to bring the extra power to home charging points.

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: Not hydrogen powered, just hydrogen storage

              "Hydrogen is either achieved by electrolysis (very inefficient process from leccy) or by breaking down hydrocarbons (wasting a whole lot of the energy in the hydrocarbons). Both are inefficient."

              The Haber process can theoretically be used to directly produce hydrogen from water and air, given enough process heat - but that would require (big scary) noo-cle-ar sources to be viable (the same heat sources would work well in cement kilns and would drop concrete's CO2 footprint by half overnight)

              More to the point with all these pie-in-the-sky things, Hydrogen is bloody hard to contain when under pressure, and makes metals (and other materials) brittle and generally needs stupidly high pressures for storing practical amounts(*) in a car, which is a bad idea when coupled with the "brittle" part above.

              If you're going to mess around with making portable fuels then move the extra few steps along from producing hydrogen, tack on a few carbon atoms and make something much safer to handle, like propane/butane (LPG) or even..... octane. Keep the hydrogen in low-pressure pipelines or consider producing methane and pumping it into the existing distribution networks. It may be an economic way of ensuring you can run your LFTR nuclear plant at continuous full power instead of load following.

              (*) Yes, I know about metal hydrides and their abilities to soak up hydrogen like a sponge, but having to pay £30,000 for the fuel tank would make any car impractical.

              1. The First Dave

                Re: Not hydrogen powered, just hydrogen storage

                Or make methanol.

                Relatively easy to do, relatively efficient, well known processes.

                Burns pretty cleanly, in engines that are identical in almost every respect to petrol engines.

                On the other hand, this is not the future, it has been done on a massive scale in Brasil for decades...

            2. annodomini2 Bronze badge

              Re: Not hydrogen powered, just hydrogen storage

              Actually Electrolysis is very efficient (~90%), the problem with Hydrogen is converting it to a form where it can be used as fuel, compressing it and cooling (due to compression) is where most of the energy is wasted.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Supercapacitors

            Well, exactly.

            All this griping about how this thing looks - it really doesn't matter; outer shell could be shaped as anything. The one really interesting thing in here is the use of capacitors to store the braking energy, it's actually quite clever, and finally something new.

            It would probably work even better with batteries than with fuel cells because if there is any energy left in the capacitors when the car is parked this could be sent slowly back to the the batteries.

  5. Dan Wilkie

    Eugh... It's like they looked at the early 90s Prius, and thought "You know what, if we slap some early 2000s Impreza headlights on it, that will look amazing".

    The idea is good, but I just can't see this being a success. A) Because of the aforementioned issues with Hydrogen, B) Because it's ugly, and C) Because it will only do 60mph, which is useless if you want to go near a motorway or dual carriageway as you'll just annoy everyone. Anyone who's driven a speed limited Van will know the pain this will cause you.

    Oh, and the reversing the motors for braking sounds a lot like regenerative braking that's standard on most hybrids nowadays, or am I missing something?

    1. Paw Bokenfohr

      You're only missing what the article misses. The Reg mentions that the regenerative braking recaptures around half of the energy on this vehicle, but what they missed telling you is that the same idea when implemented on the Prius only manages to recapture around 10% of the energy (because the Prius is putting it in to batteries whereas the Resa uses supercapacitors which can take the charge more efficiently).

      1. Dan Wilkie

        Gotcha, that makes sense now!

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        "because the Prius is putting it in to batteries"

        Not for lack of trying. Supercapacitive regeneration has been toyed with for years. The problem is that ones capable of holding that many joules are quite bulky. (one of the ideas regularly floated in hybrids is to dump braking load into supercaps and then bleed that into the batteries if needed.

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      only do 60mph, which is useless if you want to go near a motorway or dual carriageway as you'll just annoy everyone.

      OMG! Thousands and thousands of HGVs with speed governors set to 56, 52 or 50 MPH all useless!

      1. Dan Wilkie

        Because they weigh upwards of 20 tonnes... They're also banned from Lane 3. I don't know whereabouts in the country you are, but if you're down here in the South you'll no doubt have noticed that people aren't the best at moving over when they are moving more slowly than in the inner lanes.

        Usually on my ride home, the lanes on the motorway are completely reversed with Lane 3 at an almost standstill.

        But regardless, HGV's with a governor set to 56 overtaking an HGV with its governor set to 55 are a source of annoyance for a great many people on the roads. If you now have to factor in the Riverside Sparkle or whatever it was called overtaking both HGV's at 60, then a tailback a short distance behind will be the likely result as the following traffic starts slowing from 70/80 to 60 and then progressively breaking as people move around, and braking slightly harder than the car in front till a mile or so back cars are coming to a stop.

        That's where traffic jams come from.

  6. iLurker

    On the flat is one thing but going up long hills is quite another - that thing is going to run out of puff very quickly.

    Hardly novel, as anyone driving a hybrid will already be aware.

    And why so ugly ? Seems uk wannabe carmakers still dream of the Reliant Robin.

    1. AIBailey
      Pint

      Have a beer

      ...for correctly calling it a Reliant Robin, and not making that really annoying mistake of referring to it as a Robin Reliant.

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Getting up a hill relies a lot on the drive's torque, as the rotational force applied to friction is what allows it to fight gravity on the incline. We know it can do 0-60 in about 10sec on the flat, and acceleration helps gives us a ballpark for the torque. How does this compare to other cars and how they can handle hill climbs?

  7. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Stop

    Driving at 60 ...

    I'd rather drive at 60 for 2 hours, than 70/40/50/20/80/70/60/55/56/55/54/30/25/50/65

    Better for the car. Better for me. Better for the environment. And I would probably get there *faster* than 70/40/50/20/80/70/60/55/56/55/54/30/25/50/65 anyway.

    1. TheProf
      Stop

      Re: Driving at 60 ...

      "I'd rather drive at 60 for 2 hours, "

      Me too but it's the other p*icks on the road who make this highly unlikely.

    2. Dan Wilkie

      Re: Driving at 60 ...

      But you'd just be going 60/40/50/20/60/55/56/55/54/30/25/50/60 though - just because you're driving at 60 doesn't mean the traffic moving at 40 would slowly part from in front of you.

      Besides I prefer travelling at 550 mph and not having to worry about the traffic.

  8. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
    Trollface

    Open-source the IT aspects and we might yet see...

    The Hydrogen Economy and the Year of Linux.

  9. inmypjs Silver badge

    "Key to the car's economical performance is the braking system"

    Right, you know how much energy you can recover from braking? As much as gets to heat the brakes on a conventional car - ie sod all because most of the time the brakes on your car are barely warm.

    Might recover enough to cover the cost of lugging around those super capacitors, probably take decades to recover the monetary cost of installing them

    And 8.5kW or 11.4 horsepower? Less than learners get on 125 motorcycles, performance will be abysmal, wobbling along on those skinny hard tyres handling will be abysmal. Ultra light weight construction means it will be a death trap in an accident.

    Looks to me like a large Sinclair C5, surprised it doesn't have pedals.

    Flashy web site devoid of technical and pricing information, INVEST as the first menu option - I can see where this is going - down the toilet, just a question of how many investors they find to flush with them.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

        Re: Re:And 8.5kW or 11.4 horsepower? Less than learners get on 125 motorcycles,

        "Depends on what's being measured - power developed, or power drawn. Electric motors tend to be more efficient than internal combustion engines"

        It would be nice if people in the past had realised this. Then they might have come up with useful concepts like shaft horse power and brake horse power which might allow the comparison of motors with different operating principles.

        Yes, I am feeling under the weather and grumpy today.

    2. James 51 Silver badge
      Joke

      "11.4 horsepower? Less than learners get on 125 motorcycles"

      Less than 1/10 of a horse per motorcycle isn't a lot though I imagine it would be tricky to try to ride 125 motorcycles all at once.

      1. kmac499

        Re: "11.4 horsepower? Less than learners get on 125 motorcycles"

        I'll even the balance up; my one motorcycle gives 130bhp...and it runs on hydrogen (admitedlly in combination with a fair amount of carbon)

        As for the Rasa. Why slipstream a vehicle that maxs out at 60 mph? It looks like a research vehicle from a bunch of final year grad students. However the drive train of fuel cell and supercaps is interesting.

    3. Keith Oborn

      Re: "Key to the car's economical performance is the braking system"

      Well, the stats for our Nissan Leaf show that on average (over 6k miles so far) 1/3 of total energy output is recovered by regenerative braking. Only if you brake *really hard*, or at speeds under about 10MPH, do the mechanical brakes do anything. Our friends with a 5 year old Leaf have near-zero pad wear after 50k miles.

      1. 0laf Silver badge

        Re: "Key to the car's economical performance is the braking system"

        Toyota hybrids are showing the same lack of brake wear

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: "Key to the car's economical performance is the braking system"

          sod all because most of the time the brakes on your car are barely warm.

          They are barely warm because they are air cooled, their job is to convert the energy in your car to heat energy and then dump it into airflow.

          When you stop a 1.5 tonne vehicle using your brakes you are converting a lot of energy, if there was no airflow cooling your brakes then they would glow orange.

          1. inmypjs Silver badge

            Re: "Key to the car's economical performance is the braking system"

            "When you stop a 1.5 tonne vehicle"

            1500kg at 40mph has 237kJ of kinetic energy. Come to a complete stop recovering with 80% efficiency and you get 0.053kWh. Need to do that 570 times to charge the battery from this years leaf for example. Thinking of my last car journey of around 50 miles I don't think I braked more than 40 times and less than 1/4 of those to a standstill.

            I would still call that close to sod all and certainly not the "key to any car's economical performance".

          2. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: "Key to the car's economical performance is the braking system"

            "When you stop a 1.5 tonne vehicle using your brakes you are converting a lot of energy, "

            How much: at 30mph, using E(k) = 0.5 * mass * v^2 = 134,670 joules braking down to zero.

            Or enough to run a 2kW kettle for about minute - which is more time than it takes mine to boil a cup of water.

            Braking from 60 to zero would dissipate 4 times that much.

            Would someone please show me a supercap capable of safely holding half a million joules, given they're limited to ~2.7V and run to about 50Wh/kg at best? (50Wh==180,000 joules, but at 2.7V there's a lot of current so you're now stacking them in series & playing with complex regulation to ensure any given one in the string doesn't go funny and then explode, meaning you have no braking ability left.)

            Don't forget it has to be rated to do this repeatedly for a decade and have a suitable safety margin built in at the _end_ of its lifespan (a factor of 3-20 depending on regulations) to not fade after several panic stops from full speed.

    4. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: "Key to the car's economical performance is the braking system"

      "Ultra light weight construction means it will be a death trap in an accident."

      Even with very strong lightweight materials?

    5. itzman

      Re: "Key to the car's economical performance is the braking system"

      Someone has never felt their brakes after a few minutes of hard driving, and doesn't know just how much energy it takes to get them that hot.

  10. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Hydrogen filling

    It's tricky when you're the first kid on the block, but some sort of standards will be needed. Depending on how much hydrogen is needed to refuel, wouldn't some form of hot-swappable canister be the way forward? Bit like camping gas bottles. Then no need for massive infrastructure - any garage can just start with half-a-dozen bottles and ramp up as demand increases, and owners (sorry, 'renters') could keep a couple of spare bottles at home.

    But jesus it's ugly!

    1. Aqua Marina Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Hydrogen filling

      They should build refilling stations next to rivers. First use a waterwheel to provide electricity, then use the electricity to crack the water from the same river to produce the hydrogen for refilling. Construction and maintenance costs apart, cheap energy.

      Or am I thinking too simply?

      1. nijam Silver badge

        Re: Hydrogen filling

        > Or am I thinking too simply?

        Yes you are.

      2. Rol Silver badge

        Re: Hydrogen filling

        Steam methane reforming, can take the natural gas that is piped all over the country and converts it to hydrogen.

        Domestic fuel cell plants are available, that use this method, to run from the mains gas supply.

        Hardly a great leap to consider shoving it in your car instead.

        http://energy.gov/eere/fuelcells/hydrogen-production-natural-gas-reforming

        This article also goes on to explain how it can also process petrol or alcohol to produce hydrogen.

        For all practicality (cost) I see these plants getting installed in existing petrol stations, where the hydrogen infrastructure hasn't yet reached.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hydrogen filling

          > Steam methane reforming, can take the natural gas that is piped all over the country and converts it to hydrogen.

          Except environmentally that's pretty much as dirty as simply burning the gas - ignoring the complexities of safely compressing and storing the hydrogen.

          Hydrogen has pretty much all the worst attributes you can imagine from a fuel: low energy density, extremely high volatility, and its tiny molecules can leak through almost anything. What good is it if after two weeks in the garage your fuel tank is empty?

          The only plus point in this context is the ability to generate electricity directly from it in a fuel cell, rather than burn it.

          Some efficiency is gained by the regenerative braking, but the main reason this car achieves such high "effective" mpg is that it is extremely lightweight and has a puny power train. Put a 125cc motorbike engine in this chassis and you'll also achieve about 60mph top speed, and probably 100+mpg too.

          1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

            Re: Hydrogen filling

            "Put a 125cc motorbike engine in this chassis and you'll also achieve about 60mph top speed, and probably 100+mpg too."

            Put the lightweight engine and transmission off a Twingo in that chassis and you'll get more than 100mpg, and a top speed limited only by your fear, or the suspension collapsing.

          2. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

            Re: Hydrogen filling

            "Hydrogen has pretty much all the worst attributes you can imagine from a fuel: low energy density, extremely high volatility, and its tiny molecules can leak through almost anything."

            Rocket engineers turned red fuming nitric acid and unsymmetrical dimethyl hydrazine into a convenient packaged fuel that you could leave in a missile with a best before date several years distant. What matters is the size of the incentive to make it work.

            (I am not suggesting powering cars with RFNA and UDMH, to avoid misunderstanding.)

          3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Hydrogen filling

            "What good is it if after two weeks in the garage your fuel tank is empty?"

            It's not the empty fuel tank that's the problem. It's finding the tank and the garage after leaking the hydrogen from the one to the other.

          4. h4rm0ny

            Re: Hydrogen filling

            >>Hydrogen has pretty much all the worst attributes you can imagine from a fuel: low energy density

            But higher energy density than a battery.

            >>extremely high volatility

            But disperses with high rapidity unlike petrol or natural gas which pools. And anyway, it can certainly be made safe enough.

            >>and its tiny molecules can leak through almost anything. What good is it if after two weeks in the garage your fuel tank is empty?

            That would be a problem. But what if it lost 0.2% of a tank per day for the first week and then that rate increasingly dropped even further because as tank pressure reduces so does the loss rate? Your figure is an arbitrary example, not a calculation. How about if I said that after six weeks in your garage it would be down to 25%. That's something many people would be happy to live with. And I'm sure a portable hydrogen tank that you could buy (and return the empty "bottle" for 95% of your money back) would be a common enough thing. You can't use your final point as a valid counter-argument if it's not based on actual practical usage data because it's one of those things that could be anywhere from show-stopper to non-issue depending...

            Remember, if you're comparing HFCs to Petrol, then Petrol is mostly going to have an advantage in pure performance both because of inherent reasons and because it's a very mature technology. But if you take the fact that we need to move away from petrol vehicles as a given, then you're looking at batteries or HFCs most probably. And HFCs look much more promising to me. Indeed, the most vicious attacks on HFCs, ime, come from battery proponents who get angry about a competitor in the clean vehicle market. Personally I think HFCVs look great - imagine London where all vehicles emitted small amounts of distilled water instead of petrol fumes!

        2. Someone Else Silver badge
          Devil

          @ Rol -- Re: Hydrogen filling

          For all practicality (cost) I see these plants getting installed in existing petrol stations, where the hydrogen infrastructure hasn't yet reached.

          Rol, you seem to be an engineer (meant as a compliment) rather than a marketing type (also meant as a compliment). Logically, this makes sense, but consider: Would Exxon, or Mobil (same thing), or Shell, or BP allow their franchisees to hook up to the local Gas company to convert somebody else's (not mine) methane to hydrogen? Where's the profit (and opportunity for gouging the public) for them in that?

          1. Rol Silver badge

            Re: @ Rol -- Hydrogen filling

            I see your point.

            Then again. Remember when we were awash with tied pubs, as in, owned and run for the benefit of the brewery? And the government came along and legislated against it.

            Well, if the energy lobbyist could be sent on a long holiday, similar legislation could be applied to petrol stations.

            And thank you very much for the compliments.

          2. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: @ Rol -- Hydrogen filling

            "Would Exxon, or Mobil (same thing), or Shell, or BP allow their franchisees to hook up to the local Gas company to convert somebody else's (not mine) methane to hydrogen?"

            They already allow franchisees to sell CNG which is compressed from the local gas company's supply.

            CNG tanks are bad enough when they go boom, even if the gas doesn't ignite. The safety clearances around a busy hydrogen filling station due to the tank sizes and pressures is enough to make them impractical for any urban area.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hydrogen filling

        Yes, we have a shortage of rivers and those that are capable of generating electricity without screwing up the local ecology are even rarer. Electrolysis is also painfuly inefficient and just how long do you want to wait for a top up?

    2. h4rm0ny

      Re: Hydrogen filling

      The swappable tanks is half of a good idea. It's actually more appropriate for electric vehicles because batteries take a long time to charge. Filling a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle can be extremely fast. Faster than petrol, in fact, but certainly no worse. Where your idea is very good is not putting the tanks into the cars, but being able to hook them into the petrol station so that a petrol station could start rolling this out quickly without having to go through the costs and disruption of fitting underground hydrogen tanks next to the petrol ones.

      Initial demand for hydrogen is low. Having a small, above ground hydrogen tank that could be dropped off / filled is an easy first-step toward rolling it out. After all, we already have petrol stations for the infrastructure. Adding or replacing a single pump with a hydrogen one is not that big of a deal.

  11. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge
    FAIL

    Fugly

    The arse end of that car is uglier than the one on my old Tornado Typhoon :(

    That takes quite some design effort!

    https://duckduckgo.com/?q=%22tornado+typhoon%22+car&t=canonical&iax=1&ia=images

  12. Ru'

    "Riversimple"? Which dysmal, hellswamp of a focus group came up with that company name?

    1. TheDillinquent
      Facepalm

      "Riversimple"? Which dysmal, hellswamp of a focus group came up with that company name?

      Probably the same bunch that did the styling.

    2. Fink-Nottle

      The PR firm thought Trotter's Independent Trading Co. just didn't have the right ring to it ...

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It looks like it should only have one wheel at the front. Did they get Homer Simpson in to design it?

  14. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

    zero emissions?

    Apart from those in the refineries where they make the hydrogen from crude oil, you mean?

    1. h4rm0ny

      Re: zero emissions?

      That's only because it's cheap to do right now. The same can be said of charging batteries from fossil fuel powerstations. The point with both batteries AND hydrogen fuel-cells, is that you can swap both to be produced from clean energy sources when you have them. Actually, one of the best ways to do it is electrolysis of heated water which is much more efficient. Guess what nuclear power stations have? Lots of power and water for cooling...

      Actually, even with the production of hydrogen from oil, there's still a substantial saving. Modern power-plants have a lot of very good technology to reduce emissions. Doing the conversion of fuel to energy centrally results in a Hell of a lot fewer emissions than every individual car being its own little, inefficient mobile power-plant.

      1. Peter2 Silver badge

        Re: zero emissions?

        Crack water to hydrogen and oxygen and kill two birds with one stone. We can reduce the effect of rising ocean levels and get fuel out of it! :/

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: zero emissions?

          We can reduce the effect of rising ocean levels and get fuel out of it! :/

          Yayy. All those zero emissions will just come back as harmless rain. Want to bet on how many you'll sell in Cumbria?

        2. Fungus Bob Silver badge

          Re: zero emissions?

          "We can reduce the effect of rising ocean levels and get fuel out of it!"

          What rising ocean levels?

      2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: zero emissions?

        The point with both batteries AND hydrogen fuel-cells, is that you can swap both to be produced from clean energy sources when you have them.

        So why not just make alcohol with this clean technology, then you don't need new engines or a new distribution network?

        1. Rol Silver badge

          Re: zero emissions?

          "So why not just make alcohol with this clean technology, then you don't need new engines or a new distribution network?"

          Why bother fussing around with a job or an education, when alcohol can be had for practically nothing.

          We all know, most people went to university so they could earn more money to buy more booze.

      3. itzman
        Paris Hilton

        Re: zero emissions?

        Once you have that hydrogen from those nukes, you can take some carbon dioxide and make...diesel?

        Golly. And we have a supply chain for liquid hydrocarbon fuel already. And engines that can utilise it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: zero emissions?

      out of sight, out of chimney.

  15. gaz 7

    So what about congestion

    As an experiment and technology demonstration this is fine.

    In real life though our roads are choked with traffic going nowhere fast already.

    Changing the energy source doesn't magically make all the other problems around mass car use like congestion, danger, inactivity. Given most of the driving population only drives a few miles to work or the shops we need some way of getting those out of cars to make space for the people that do need vehicles.

    If only there was a form of personal transport that was super energy and space efficient, was cheap tobuy and maintain and free to run, yet made it's users healthier...

    1. abedarts

      Re: So what about congestion

      'If only there was a form of personal transport that was super energy and space efficient'

      And while it's users were getting healthier and fitter it could have a battery and a motor to help then up hills. It would be nice if it could keep them dry and warm too, like a car - drat.

      1. James 51 Silver badge

        Re: So what about congestion

        I remember seeing a concept car that had something like bicycle pedals in it in part to help keep occupants fit and provide a little top up for the batteries.

    2. David Nash Silver badge

      Re: So what about congestion

      That is a valid question but is a separate issue.

      Not having good answers yet to the congestion and the other points you mentioned does not invalidate any good points of hydrogen cell cars, which nobody has said would cure congestion.

      1. Fungus Bob Silver badge

        Re: So what about congestion

        "does not invalidate any good points of hydrogen cell cars"

        What good points? All the hydrogen on this planet is bound to something else and splitting it off is not cheap or efficient. No point in getting it from any of our traditional fuel sources as we can already burn them more efficiently. Water is a non-starter too as there are millions of people on this planet without access to clean, safe drinking water. Others have mentioned how easily hydrogen leaks through most materials. So what are the advantages of a fuel source that is ridiculously hard to acquire, ridiculously hard to store and has low energy density? At least with alcohol some of the cost in terms of both energy and money are offset by the energy input known as photosynthesis.

    3. eesiginfo

      Re: So what about congestion

      The thing is... going to the shops IS one of the primary needs (for owning a vehicle).

      It's bad enough carrying the shopping down the path, never mind hulking it onto a bus, and then somehow getting it from the bus stop to your house.

      That is unless you are poor, can't afford a car, and are forced to pay twice as much for your limited choice of food.

      Oh yes... and forget popping out to the DIY store to get the kit for that home repair job.

      Don't even think about taking the kids camping.

      The congestion that you see, is a result of people living life as it is today.

      This cannot be changed by a single dictate, unless you belong to that happy band of well off idlers, who want to see travel priced out of the range of the common citizen, so that the roads are freed up for them.

      ... only that won't happen because transport is too important to a vibrant economy.

      The solution will be technology.

      Hydrogen fuel cell cars are going to happen, and ultimately they will be networked into convoys.

      Like packets of data, the routes chosen will reflect the optimum route from A to B.

      Traffic lights will function according to traffic flow.... no more waiting for the light to change at an empty junction.

      We'll then get driverless cars on an Uber principal, the nearest free unit picking you up, dropping you off, and going to the next client.

      Everything will develop to match the needs of people, because they'll be the ones paying for it.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: So what about congestion

        "The congestion that you see, is a result of people living life as it is today."

        In other stories recently, It's been calculated that the effect of vehicle automation (and people therefore not paying as much to use them for taxis, plus being able to hail one easily and therefore not feeling as much pressure to buy a car) could be a reduction of urban car ownership by 70%

        The world market is large enough that manufacturers would still sell new cars even at that reduced level of ownership.

        Hello Johnnycab.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So what about congestion

      I think I see where you're going there

      Perhaps one that magically bestows upon its users the power to ignore red traffic lights, run people over on the footpaths, pedestrian crossings and generally act like complete twunts to everyone.

      I'm considering buying a few of those lovely cheap HD dash cams and starting a YouTube channel with all the two wheeeled lycra wearing fuckwittery I see every day.

      Should make me a millionaire in no time,.

      1. James 51 Silver badge

        Re: So what about congestion

        Bad drivers are bad drivers, it doesn't matter the mode of transportation.

        1. Hey Nonny Nonny Mouse

          Re: So what about congestion

          "Bad drivers are bad drivers, it doesn't matter the mode of transportation."

          Precisely that, dangerous driving is dangerous driving no matter what the machine being driven.

          Having seen people on pedestrian crossings mown down by idiots on pushbikes who think pedestrian crossing lights don't apply to them, cyclists hopping on and off pavements to avoid traffic congestion, cycling the wrong way down one way streets, cutting between moving lanes of traffic and causing other road users to swerve, brake etc. the only conclusion I can come to is that they have already been banned from driving anything with an engine for sheer incompetence.

          The stock answer from these morons for their behaviour seems to be along the lines of 'bigger boys did it first' which makes me think a scheme to have them display a compulsory registration plate on their machines is necessary so they can be prosecuted like any other dangerous driver.

          I'm happy to have cycle lanes, exclusion zones etc. and I cycle for leisure with my kids and to keep fit so anything that makes it safer works for me.

  16. alain williams Silver badge

    Why not sell it to you ?

    Reminds me of the early days of mobile phones where you could only get one on a contract.

    Their monthly fee feels like lock in; probably expensive; maybe OK for those who buy iPhones, but not me.

    The design: to me looks like the child of a VW beetle and a Citroën 2CV

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

      Re: Why not sell it to you ?

      "The design: to me looks like the child of a VW beetle and a Citroën 2CV"

      with a helping of early Saabs thrown in for good measure

    2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Why not sell it to you ?

      > looks like the child of a VW beetle and a Citroën 2CV

      My first thought was: "Looks like a mini-Citroën DS.."

      Fix the top speed issue and I'd be interested (I do a fair bit of dual-carriageway/motorway driving and there is no way in hell I'm doing that in a vehicle limited to 60mph)

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Why not sell it to you ?

        (I do a fair bit of dual-carriageway/motorway driving and there is no way in hell I'm doing that in a vehicle limited to 60mph)

        Like all those poor HGV drivers and caravan/trailer towing car drivers.

      2. Hey Nonny Nonny Mouse

        Re: Why not sell it to you ?

        Yes.

        Well, sort of.

        My first thought was that whoever designed the DS would be generating enough rotational energy to power several plug in hybrids, if only we could find a way to extract said energy from their grave.

        From the back, it looks like they've attempted to ape an early Porsche with those louvre covers and perhaps one of the sporting Jags with the arse end up in the air.

        All in, it's got lots of beautiful, classic design touchs but sadly they've managed to pick all the ones that look ridiculous when stuck together with araldite and tofu.

  17. Olius

    So the fuel cell will never need charging..?

    "Riversimple claims the car reclaims 50 per cent of braking energy, and since that's used for acceleration, the fuel cell only needs to pack enough power "to provide cruising speed power".

    "

    I suspect it is their marketing dept that has claimed this, and not their engineers (I hope ;-) )

    The cell will need to supply the power for the initial acceleration when the capacitors are empty, and also (by their own definition) 50% of the power for each following acceleration...as well as the power to maintain speed when cruising, as they mention.

    1. h4rm0ny

      Re: So the fuel cell will never need charging..?

      >>I suspect it is their marketing dept that has claimed this, and not their engineers (I hope ;-) )

      You don't charge a fuel cell. You refill it. With fuel.

    2. 2+2=5 Silver badge

      Re: So the fuel cell will never need charging..?

      > I suspect it is their marketing dept that has claimed this, and not their engineers (I hope ;-) )

      Perhaps they intend that braking will initially part-charge the capacitors and then the fuel cell finishes the job while the car is stationary, waiting at traffic lights, or whatever. Then when you're ready to go there is a full charge available.

      I think this would work often enough that you could live with it.

    3. Tridac

      Re: So the fuel cell will never need charging..?

      They must have thought of that. There's no reason why the supercapacitors can't be charged during normal driving, even if at a fraction of the charge rate. It smooths out the fuel cell energy profile, reducing peak demand and probably extends fuel cell life. Braking energy recovery just adds to that.

      The good thing about supercaps is that they will take very high charge rate over a short time period. Any other battery tech takes much longer to charge, due to limits on charge current because of the heating generated from the internal resistance and chemical energy conversion process. Another advantage is that supercaps, being based on electrostatic principles, don't suffer from the wearout mechanisms of normal batteries.

      Brave idea and one more small step towards an electric vehicle future. Estimate 15-20 years before most light vehilces are all electric...

  18. nijam Silver badge

    Haven't been through all this a few times already? Is there actually a vehicle fuel that is a worse combination of expensive to produce, dangerous to store, and difficult to supply than hydrogen?

    1. h4rm0ny

      >>"Is there actually a vehicle fuel that is a worse combination of expensive to produce, dangerous to store, and difficult to supply than hydrogen?"

      Uranium, natural gas, wind power... These three all tick some of your boxes. Uranium ticks all three (and yes, it is a "vehicle fuel" - we have ships and submarines that both use it). Natural gas is expensive to produce but benefits from massive economies of scale. But high-temperature hydrogen electrolysis would actually be easier, believe it or not. Combine it with a nuclear power station that has both hot water and surplus energy (nuclear power has a very inefficient ramp-up / ramp-down process so you want to keep it at a stable rate. Combine that with the fact that demand is variable and you're basically choosing whether to have an energy surfeit or an energy defecit. Hydrogen turns that awkward choice into a win by giving you something useful to do with the surplus); you never have to drill an undersea well or cap a runaway well in California. Natural gas and petrol also tick your dangerous to store requirement which might surprise you. But a hydrogen leak just vanishes straight upwards. It's gone before you can say "low atomic weight". Natural gas and petrol fumes are both heavier than air. They pool and result in the risk of an explosive fireball.

      As to Wind Power - monstrously expensive, horribly inefficient. And viable mainly because we pay a 16% surcharge on our power bills so that the owners of Wind companies can make money.

      So in answer to your question, yes, I can think of at least three.

      1. nijam Silver badge

        > So in answer to your question, yes, I can think of at least three.

        Fair point ... wind power obviously. But the length of the explanation you gave for the rest sort of makes my point for me, I'd claim.

        1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

          Nuclear power

          Why comes its only the Navy with their merchant-of-death vehicles that get to use nuclear? Imagine if the worlds freighters were using it we'd be a truly global village with practically free transport - and it would leave a shitload of diesel left over for us to run in our cars...

          1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

            Re: Nuclear power

            The reason is that nuclear powered cargo ships have been tried and they are far too expensive to operate. Building a nuclear reactor is quite difficult, building one compact enough to go in a ship is very difficult, and keeping it running is more difficult still.

            When Diesel ships came in, some owners did not like them because the skilled crew had to be paid so much more. The wages, training and safety overhead on nuclear ships is enormous. And many ships are in any case gas or oil carriers. The big MAN engines on LNG carriers burn the cargo as fuel with just a little Diesel fuel to ignite the charge. Try that on a nuclear cargo ship.

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: Nuclear power

              "The reason is that nuclear powered cargo ships have been tried and they are far too expensive to operate"

              Which had nothing to do with the nuclear reactor.

              Discounting icebreakers, the ONLY nuclear powered civilian ship built was a mixed cargo/passenger thing at the dawn of the container age. Even after conversion from nuclear steam turbine to conventional steam turbine it was uneconomic and that had a lot more to do with its inability to handle containers than the propulsion system.

              1. x 7 Silver badge

                Re: Nuclear power

                "Discounting icebreakers, the ONLY nuclear powered civilian ship built was a mixed cargo/passenger thing at the dawn of the container age"

                not true. Excluding the Russian icebreakers, there have been four civilian nuclear ships

                Mutsu https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mutsu_(ship)

                Sevmorput https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sevmorput

                Savannah https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NS_Savannah

                Otto Hahn https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otto_Hahn_(ship)

                I think the fact that none were ever copied proves that the designs were not cost effective or succesfull

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Nuclear power

            "Why comes its only the Navy with their merchant-of-death vehicles that get to use nuclear?"

            IINM one of the big reasons is that military nuclear reactors, in order to be compact enough to be usable in carriers (where most of the space is in support of the jets) and submarines (obvious design limitations), they have to use a higher grade of fissile material (close to 20% enrichment, practically the point where it becomes very easy to convert to weapons grade).

            I think the only non-military nuclear-powered ship in operation is a class of Russian icebreakers.

          3. Tom 64

            Re: Nuclear power

            I can answer that one: Proliferation.

            It wouldn't take much for a couple of Somali pirates to capture a nuke powered freighter, then there'd be fissile uranium on the black market for our terry friends at ISIS to pick up. Not exactly ideal, I'm sure you'll agree.

            Still, I want my nuke powered car, just for bragging rights ;)

            1. Down not across

              Re: Nuclear power

              Still, I want my nuke powered car, just for bragging rights ;)

              You might need to wait for Mr Fusion. And that could be a long wait.

        2. werdsmith Silver badge

          Petrol is also pretty nasty when it's not handled properly.

    2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      > expensive to produce, dangerous to store, and difficult to supply than hydrogen?

      Coal-fired steam cars. Not so much the difficulties with coal, just the unpleasant results that await you if you crack your boiler in an accident.

      Although a Stirling-engined car might be interesting..

      1. Down not across

        Although a Stirling-engined car might be interesting..

        Yes although getting sufficient output from small enough form factor could be tricky. Having said that

        woodgas systems aren't exactly small either.

    3. inmypjs Silver badge

      "Haven't been through all this a few times already?"

      The Yanks have spent will over a trillion dollars funding research to enable the 'hydrogen economy'.

      They have almost nothing useful to show for it.

    4. MyffyW Silver badge

      Hydrogen is explosive in pretty much any combination with air whereas petrol (and natural gas) are harder to get going.

      Suspect "Oh the humanity!" is not going to be a great rallying cry, but once the dino-fuel runs out might be all we can do.

      1. Adrian Tawse

        Hydrogen is explosive

        Not true. Hydrogen has to be mixed with air in a quite narrow band of ratios for it to be dangerous. We have all seen the lab demos of a balloon full of hydrogen and a lighted taper. The bang you hear is of the balloon busting, not the hydrogen burning. The main problem with hydrogen is storing the stuff. You need tremendous pressure to store any useful amount and it has a wonderful ability to leak.

    5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "Is there actually a vehicle fuel that is a worse combination of expensive to produce, dangerous to store, and difficult to supply than hydrogen?"

      Acetylene.

  19. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "hydrogen stations ... near where our customers live"

    I hope none of their customers lives near me then. Nasty inflammable stuff, more so than any other fuel and harder to keep where it's supposed to be.

  20. Christoph Silver badge

    How is the hydrogen stored in the car?

    Hydrogen is horrible stuff to store - how are they doing it?

    High pressure tanks? Don't store much as it's ultra-low density, horribly dangerous in a crash.

    Liquefied? Boils off overnight, very dangerous in a crash.

    Absorbed on something? I haven't heard of them getting that working well yet.

    1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      Re: How is the hydrogen stored in the car?

      This lot appear to be the hydrogen storage tech partner: http://www.innovative-gas-engineering.com/en/hydrogen/storage/

    2. Keith Oborn

      Re: How is the hydrogen stored in the car?

      Take a look at this:

      http://cellaenergy.com/

      Early days yet, but you see the point: no high pressure equipment, safe and easy to store and pump.

    3. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: How is the hydrogen stored in the car?

      "Absorbed on something? I haven't heard of them getting that working well yet."

      Actually NiMH batteries, which work very well, do so by dissociating hydrogen and storing it in mischmetall when charging, then reacting it to get electricity. It's a pity nickel and transition metals are so dense, but a lot of hybrids use NiMH because it is safe and reliable.

  21. DrXym Silver badge

    Oh dear god

    That thing looks awful. Is that really blue crushed velvet on the steering wheel? It's like someone discovered a cache of Citroens rejected designs from the 1980s, picked the first two off the top and stuck the front and backs together to make a car.

    I think they would have been better off to take an existing car body or at least produce a conventional design that was non intimidating and better sold the idea that hydrogen cars don't have to look weird.

    1. Tom 64

      Re: Oh dear god

      I actually like the design, and I'd buy one if it wasn't for the hydrogen powertrain, which is a stupid idea. Still gotta keep the oil flowing, I suppose.

  22. Vulch

    The cutaway looks better than the actual car. Leave the doors off, put Lotus 7 style mudguards over the wheels instead of extending the bodyshell and make the top over the gubbins at the rear a flat deck with some tie-down points so you've got a bit of load carrying capacity and you've got a decent fair-weather run-about.

    1. nijam Silver badge

      > ... a decent fair-weather run-about.

      Walk-about, I think you meant.

  23. x 7 Silver badge

    Looks like one of those 1960's plastic body kit-car jobbies that were based on the Triumph Herald /Spitfire chassis, and just as fuggly as they were.

  24. Simon Harris Silver badge

    Other cars are available...

    It seems to borrow some looks from Volkswagen's XL1 (diesel hybrid - claimed 300-ish mpg) - although the XL1 looks a lot nicer, and has a bit of boot space too.

  25. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    hello! wakeup call!

    Why has no one addressed the glaring elephant in the room?

    No one comment ,nor the article itself mentions this huge "plot hole"

    Everytime some makes a "hydrogen car" people think it runs for free.

    WHERE do you get hydrogen? ok soon you can buy it down the shops, but where di it comfrom? water thats where , it was extracted ,at great cost (energy wise) using electricity - which also dosent grow on trees , it comes from coal and oil dug up from the ground - just like your SUV.

    So i'd like to know exactly how efficient this thing is in real terms with the pound notes and subsidies removed from the equation.

    Changing energy from oil - electricity - hydrogen - kinetic(braking) - more electrictiy - kinetic again cant be good for entrophy

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: hello! wakeup call!

      I'd get hydrogen by electrolysis of water using leccy from my nuclear power plant.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: hello! wakeup call!

        OK, where's the WATER gonna come from, then? There's already enough flak about used coolant water from nuclear plants (it's a lot warmer coming out of the plant) which has knock-on effects downstream. Now you're going to consume some of that water to produce hydrogen gas, too?

        1. h4rm0ny

          Re: hello! wakeup call!

          >>OK, where's the WATER gonna come from, then? There's already enough flak about used coolant water from nuclear plants (it's a lot warmer coming out of the plant) which has knock-on effects downstream Now you're going to consume some of that water to produce hydrogen gas, too?"

          The water being hotter after it's been used to cool a nuclear power station is a PLUS. High temperature electroloysis is much more efficient than trying to do the same with cool water. And if you're concerned about downstream effects of heated water then consumption of that water to make hydrogen is an even greater benefit.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: hello! wakeup call!

            Unless you want the water PERIOD. Frankly, anyone downstream would take the warm water over LESS water. Potable water supply is already becoming something of a concern, especially in warmer areas.

  26. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Using electric motors as brakes isn't revolutionary, it's been done for decades on diesel locomotives for one, but attempting to use the electricity will reduce the braking effect considerably. Presumably the mass of the vehicle is such that this isn't important.

    I'm surprised that the blurb doesn't point out that such braking is, thanks to the laws of Physics, anti-lock off the shelf.

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: Bah!

      Regen braking has been done on electric locomotives for over a hundred years. That's how Swiss three-phase (double catenary) mountain railways did it, since 1899.

  27. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    brake-energy-recovery systems

    given the price and availability of energy it should be mandatory for all vehicles to have brake-energy-recovery systems.

    1. inmypjs Silver badge

      Re: brake-energy-recovery systems

      "should be mandatory for all vehicles"

      Except there isn't enough energy to recover to make up for lugging around the extra weight of motor/generators and batteries/capacitors never mind make up the cost. Heavy vehicles starting and stopping all the time like urban buses - maybe worthwhile.

      EVs and hybrids have most of the stuff already built in.

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: brake-energy-recovery systems

        True, but how many 50ton HGVs have it?

        Anyway , theres other ways of storing the energy. compressed air. rubber bands.

        A car might not sound like much compared to the weight of a locomotive , but at the end of the day the energy lost when a 2 ton BMW brakes from 70 to 0 would probably run a house for a day.

        1. short

          Re: brake-energy-recovery systems

          Yeah, 'probably' run a house for a day.

          Let's run the maths.

          Kinetic energy in a 2-tonne car doing 70mph

          KE=1/2 * m* v^2

          = 0.5 * 2000 * 31^2

          KE = 961kJ

          Let's assume you capture every last bit and store it.

          Now let's boil 1l of water in the kettle.

          1,000 grams * (100 °C - 20 °C) * 4.186 J/g °C = 334,880 J = 334.880 kJ

          Oh. 1/3 of a BMW stop.

          Your house would have to take an average of 11W to make your 'probably' true. I hope you like it cold, dark, silent and unconnected. Also without tea.

          Why not actually do the easy maths, rather than just inventing numbers? Then maybe you can make useful decisions. (and using that harvested energy to accelerate the car away from the lights, might be useful).

          Grumble.

        2. Toltec

          Re: brake-energy-recovery systems

          "at the end of the day the energy lost when a 2 ton BMW brakes from 70 to 0 would probably run a house for a day."

          That is approximately 1MJ

          Average UK house is about 13kWh per day or about 47MJ

          Only the larger BMWs, e.g 7 series and X5, weigh 2 tonnes.

          1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

            Re: brake-energy-recovery systems

            ok Toltec & Short.

            Thats me busted good n proper. Touche .

            I did wonder about the maths, and i was thinking of the bigger BMWs.

            Thanks for doing the maths for me

            "That is approximately 1MJ, Average UK house is about 13kWh per day or about 47MJ"

            Ok - so If the BMW driver starts and stops a few times - say 47 , or maybe a bit more if he wasnt hitting 70 , its still a lot of energy right?

            Also are all those air conditioners in our server rooms transferring all that heat into the buildings heating system - or just pissing it out of the window?

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: brake-energy-recovery systems

              "Also are all those air conditioners in our server rooms transferring all that heat into the buildings heating system - or just pissing it out of the window?"

              Having investigated this for our site....

              The cost of server room cooling equipment which can produce useful heat for the building heating system outweighs the benefit of installing it. It's only worthwhile doing if you're cooling more than 100kW

              1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                Re: brake-energy-recovery systems

                "The cost of server room cooling equipment which can produce useful heat for the building heating system outweighs the benefit of installing it. It's only worthwhile doing if you're cooling more than 100kW"

                Plus it's only practical for areas that are cold for most of the year. Any place that gets a lengthy summer (or is just plain torrid) will have the double whammy of a hot server room and a hot exterior that makes it difficult to exchange heat.

        3. AIBailey
          Boffin

          Re: brake-energy-recovery systems

          Loving the rubber band approach! I'm going to devise a mechanism to replace my disk brakes with a device to clamp a bundle of rubber bands to the axles when you need to stop.

          Braking for traffic lights takes a while for the slack in the bands to spool up, but I can then out-reverse any hot hatch that cares to challenge me.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    never mind the revolutionary design

    what a splendid, revolutionary interior! Way to go, buster!

  29. Jimmy2Cows
    Facepalm

    Runs straight into the usual issues with alternative fuel cars...

    Why is it that every alternative fuel car (barring the Tesla model S) is:

    a) Ridiculously impractical for every day use, an

    b) looks like a fucking turd on wheels?

    Alt fuels are great, but FFS please make it a proper car a family can use every day for the whole range of normal things, without having to wear bags over their heads in shame!

  30. weevil

    Honda did this EIGHT years ago. I am shocked at the lack of progress. This is a rubbish looking concept car. Honda's FCX Clarity looked like a normal car, drove like a normal car. Granted it was only available in California, but that's because California is the only place in the world that only has hydrogen infrastructure. The infra needs to appear before the cars. This has been hydrogen's only hurdle for global consumption of it, because lets face it, Hybrid and electric is not the way to go, hydrogen is.

    1. Boothy

      Hybrids are a stop gap, and should vanish as tech improves.

      But I suspect most everyday cars, e.g. under 30 miles a day, nip to the shops, local office etc. will be electric. That way most car users can simply charge at home, and never need to visit a refuelling station/garage.

      I see hydrogen being used for high mileage users, (sales reps, HGVs, intercity buses etc), and those that need to be driving for most of the day, such as local public transport etc.

      Eventually though, I think private ownership will diminish, and you'll just use an Uber style app to call a car appropriate to your specific journey.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        The notion of an "everyday car" presumes that we have however many grand we need to buy a car (and a house with suitable parking) that won't be sufficient for our needs, so we'll have to buy a second one as well.

        I doubt this car will have a sufficiently small price tag.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          "...so we'll have to buy a second one as well."

          If such trips are infrequent, then you can just rent a longer-range vehicle for those times you DO need to go several hundred miles at a time.

  31. PNGuinn Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    I call BS

    See title.

    On pretty well every claim about the thing.

  32. JustNiz

    It happens so often that I'm beginning to think there must actually be a law somewhere that says alternative fuel vehicles are required to be completely ugly.

  33. bjr

    Terrifyingly poor performance

    It's a go-cart, 0-60 in 10 seconds, top speed 60!!!. I don't see how you could drive this on a highway without getting rear ended. I like the idea of supercaps instead of batteries but I would have coupled them with a small conventional engine and bigger electric motors so that the performance would have been acceptable and the range unlimited. Who is going to buy (or rent) this thing, it's performance is awful and as everyone else has pointed out it's hideous, it looks like a Citreon who's mother had Zika.

  34. Julian 8

    Damn it is ugly

    Look like a new combination between Ford + Citreon

    Take 1 Citreon DS19 and then let Ford loose on it like it did with the Scorpio's before they phased them out.

  35. Steve Potter

    so 2010 tech

    why are so many so called forward thinking people trying to develop hydrogen powered stuff, when it costs so much to produce, lets face it we use electricity to create hydrogen, so why not use that electricity instead?

    There is a nationwide grid of electricty charging points, most are free, provided by ecotricity (Tesla also but theirs are restricted to Teslas currently), put your thoughts into battery tech / super capacitor tech.

    By all means look at fuel cell technology when you can produce a fuel which is cheap and easy enough to use.

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: so 2010 tech

      Because a lot of people have put a lot of thought, R&D and money into it, and nobody has an electric cell which will meet the requirements and use materials of which there are a sufficient supply. At one time NiFE cells were seen as being the holy grail, then NiCd, then NiMH, now lithium. All are resource constrained and have a variety of technical problems that are not being solved. The latest idea is based around aluminium air. If you were a major car maker, would you bet on it?

      The magic of hydrogen is that if you can't get fuel cells going, you can design an IC spark ignition engine to use it. It does hedge the bets a bit.

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: so 2010 tech

      why are so many so called forward thinking people trying to develop hydrogen powered stuff, when it costs so much to produce,

      When you say "it costs so much to produce" you are writng in the present tense, whilst at the same time talking about "forward thinking people" who are thinking in a future tense about when hydrogen will not be expensive to produce because some clever bastard will make a breakthrough.

  36. theOtherJT

    I'm not sure what's new here.

    So it's achieved an impressive MPG number but it's hardly a family saloon is it? Clearly it's getting most of that number by being super light and having no power.

    The hydrogen fuel cell feels like a bit of a gimick in this case. Possibly the ultra-capacitor regeneration thing is good tech, but surely they'd be better selling that to someone who already makes a regenerative hybrid to fit to an existing car.

    I know the Top Gear lot went on about it quite often, and it has the advantage of sounding much cooler than batteries (which we all know are terrible right now) but I really don't see hydrogen fuel cells catching on.

    If I had to place bets, I'd go with "hybrid battery/super-capacitor but full electric" cars being the long term future, with the appropriate scaling in Nuclear power to feed them.

  37. g00se
    Stop

    Cheap at the price

    fuel consumption of around "250 mpg (equivalent)

    Not bad! So a journey of 250 miles is going to cost me about £3.79 (a litre of petrol being roughly £1 at value stations) then?

  38. Gareth79

    Brake feel

    I wonder how the brakes feel on this - I have a Leaf and there is a B mode (and Eco which is similar) where the regenerative effect is increased, and the brakes take less effort to engage. The unnerving part is that when the battery is full charged there is NO regen (because there is nowhere to 'put it') and the brakes need a greater effort. It's one thing to wake you up in the morning when you forget!

    edit: Oh yes, I'll add to the chorus of comments that the design is pretty poor. I know they are constrained with having to use pre-made lighting components and maximising aerodynamics but jeez....

    1. x 7 Silver badge

      Re: Brake feel

      regenerative brakes - given current technology - really need to be spinning up a flywheel to be efficient, especially in a city, though obviously that has weight issues (and safety issues in a crash)

      I wonder how just how small the Parry People Mover technology could be scaled down to? That could be the answer for a city car

      1. Jan 0

        Re: Brake feel

        Is that what Peter Parry* did with his NiFe cell milk float!? I always wondered if he'd get some use out of it.

        * famous on Usenet:uk.d-i-y.

    2. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Brake feel

      Yeah! but the lighting components didn't have to come off old Robby the Robot models and using such skinny tyres to reduce rolling resistance is a liability.

      This 'ugly go-kart as a service' is the 21st century's answer to the Sinclair C5, which had a great fanfare and rapidly went...... nowhere! The greenest thing about this is, there is more to recycle.

      I think a lot of people get these great ideas and become sufficiently taken with them to put money in but lack the ability to link their new idea with what is actually useful and what is actually going to sell. Marks for trying something new but must try harder.

  39. Richard Gray 1
    Pint

    Joined up thinking....

    I have thought that for years that hydrogen was better than the electric powered battery models. (although this one is butt ugly).

    Those clever chappies in Japan have made a hydrogen station connected to the grid BBC Click

    People have been saying for years that the problem with wind \ wave power is that is produces power when it's not needed.

    My idea is this :- install one of these hydrogen producing units close by the wind turbines.

    When the turbines can produce energy that is not currently needed by the grid it produces hydrogen available for cars to fill up at, or to convert back into electricity for the grid.

    No complex transportation of hydrogen around, no massive new infrastructure, just what looks like a couple of containers worth of hardware, installed around in communities that would benefit from cheap fuel.

    I've now solved the energy crisis I'm off for a pint!!

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Joined up thinking....

      Except for one thing. Those wind and solar plants are normally located far from civilization. What good is a fuel station far from all the vehicles?

    2. h4rm0ny

      Re: Joined up thinking....

      >>"My idea is this :- install one of these hydrogen producing units close by the wind turbines."

      Works much better with nuclear. You have more power and also ready supply of hot water for more efficient electrolysis. Nuclear is more predictable than Wind, but similarly has a problem with variability only in nuclear's case it results from variability of demand, not production, as it doesn't ramp up and down very efficiently. Producing hydrogen enables a power station to usefully run at above demand and thus avoid the variability of demand issue.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Joined up thinking....

        " it doesn't ramp up and down very efficiently."

        Nuclear using fuel rods doesn't ramp up/down very well (ie, can't load follow)

        This is because of xenon buildup in the rods when you ramp down that has to decay away before it can ramp back up again (this also builds up a shitload of pressure inside the rods and the gassing causes the ceramic fuel pellets in the rods to break down to powder over time - both are undesirable, so ramping down is best avoided in a fuel-rod based design.

        Molten salt fuel reactors don't have this problem, because the xenon (insoluble in Fl/Li salts) gasses out in the circulating pump headspace and can be extracted or left in situ to decay before being removed. This was amply demonstrated at Oak Ridge in 1968

        Conventional MSRs aren't pressurised and can run far hotter than water-cooled systems, which in turn means more efficient turbines or process heat supply and no risk of radioactive steam explosions.

        There's a UK fuelrod design variant which substitutes circulating molten salts inside tubes for the fuel rods. Whilst it's a simpler engineering change vs current civil reactor designs, it still puts superhot (400C), pressurised (20-40 atmospheres), acidic water (boric acid is dissolved in the water as part of the moderation process) in close proximity with radioactives which is a "very bad idea" in the overall scheme of things and means you still need a huge containment building with all the associated gubbins. Water isn't known as "the universal solvent" for nothing, and almost all the nuke incidents in the last 70 years have been because of water-related issues (corrosion of piping or rods) or compounded by the release of radionucleide-contaminated water/steam.

        If a nuke plant is producing hydrogen for fuel (with further carbon tacking to the molecules to make 'em more easily transportable - hydrogen is a bitch to store and transport), then you do not want it as a load-following electrical generation system as well - large scale hydrogen generators or processors don't take kindly to variable inputs. In any case, a water-moderated nuke plant doesn't run hot enough to directly drive the water-cracking process (electrolytic generation is supremely inefficient, never mind the inefficiencies of uranium plants (mined vs fuel vs waste) and water-moderated electricity generation.)

        Bear in mind that a molten salt system doesn't need to dump heat to water bodies (ocean or river), so you're not location-constrained to vulnerable areas, nor by hot days (dumping to atmosphere is sufficient and it's entirely possible you can scavenge more energy by using a vortex generator, bringing the overall thermal efficiency up from 35% to something like 45%, vs a water-cooled system's absolute best thermal efficiency of 28%)

        1. Adrian Tawse

          Re: Joined up thinking....

          I entirely agree with your comments about molten salt Thorium fueled reactors but the chances of any UK government being that far sighted in my lifetime is rather less than there being little green men from Mars at the bottom of my garden.

  40. Jan 0

    A better offroad vehicle than a Range Rover?

    Well, it looks as if it has better ground clearance, all it needs is chunky tyres!

    1. Blue Pumpkin
      Trollface

      Re: A better offroad vehicle than a Range Rover?

      And managing to be less ugly than a Range Rover Evoque

  41. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Stupid aerodynamics

    This has been optimised for 50+ mph when as a city car it could have the aerodynamics of a brick wall and it wouldn't matter.

    Why do makers constantly make this mistake with cars like this? I'd far rather have something shaped like a Suzuki Wagon-R which is tiny, but actually surprisingly practical.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      @Alan Brown -- Re: Stupid aerodynamics

      Why do makers constantly make this mistake with cars like this?

      This looks more like a concept car one would see at auto shows. They do these for several reasons... 1) to get the automobile writers enthused and awed 2) same for investors 3) and lastly for the buying public to "want" but never get one. It's quite possible that by the time production rolls around, it'll just be a box on wheels.

  42. TRT Silver badge

    The good thing about electric cars...

    is that if you run out of juice, you just need a AA van. Or AAA at a pinch.

  43. Geoffrey W Silver badge

    I don't care what you all say. If it does 250 mpg (equivalent) then I'd happily sit in a plastic milk crate as long as I could steer it.

  44. Adrian Tawse

    Zero emissions ?

    Except that hydrogen is currently produced by mixing methane with super heated steam. The steam is produced by burning more methane. The reaction is endothermic, it absorbs heat, so the reaction has to be helped along by burning yet more methane. Not quite zero emissions, just emissions somewhere else. The production of hydrogen by electrolysis is too inefficient. In any case how do we produce the electricity, in a gas powered power station!

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Zero emissions ?

      Seeing how it's from a Welsh company, I'm surprised they didn't find a way to make it run on misery. Or rain.

      1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

        Re: Zero emissions ?

        "I'm surprised they didn't find a way to make it run on misery. Or rain."

        This is a brilliant idea which might work. Take a lot of Welsh rain and recite Welsh poetry at it until the water molecules become so miserable that they split up.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Zero emissions ?

          Di-atomic, the Welsh particle physicist.

        2. StudeJeff

          Re: Zero emissions ?

          Is Welsh poetry anything like Vogon poetry?

  45. nightkid

    Who's the target audience?

    As an automotive design engineer, here's my take on this.

    We need to stop making comparison to this car and to an average UK family hatchback; two very different cars for two different tasks. As a city car it meets these following requirements:

    - Reduce local air pollution. Granted it's not "green" as you still have to pressurise the hydrogen to ~300bar to get the energy density for it. Being "green" and reducing local air pollution are mutually inclusive but not the same. Most hybrid cars are not even remotely "green"; take the currently best-selling hybrid: Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV - High powered, heavy, toxic batteries and massive upfront energy consumption (~2.5 times) to manufacture an equivalent combustion engine vehicle.

    -The styling may not be in everyone's taste but I imagine it's designed to reduce cross sectional surface area to improve fuel efficiency. For example covering the rear wheels has been a classic feature to reduce drag. Like the Honda Insight MK1 and VW XL1. The Honda Insight MK1 was to me the best attempt at a fuel efficient hybrid. Problem was it was too radical and the general consumer didn't want to change their lifestyle to fit around this car. We want green but not willing to adapt our driving habit for it.

    -60mph top speed is ideal for rush hour commute and city driving. Considering average speed these days are getting smaller, 60mph is more than enough. Check your daily commute average speed. You'll be surprise.

    http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/cars/article-3315898/Average-speeds-morning-rush-hours-slower-second-World-War-tank.html

    Personally I would consider this as a commute car for weekdays and would get a used hatch/estate for weekend load carrying or a classic sport car for fun. Problem they have is lack of hydrogen station around UK and £500 monthly hire lease cost. If they maybe built this car on a small petrol 600cc engine (like a Japanese K-car) then it would have worked better for me.

    1. Eddy Ito Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Who's the target audience?

      It's true, I have to come to a full stop several times on the freeway on my morning commute but if I could drive a tank on the freeway I'd never have to stop in traffic even if it had a top speed of only 60.

    2. briesmith

      Re: Who's the target audience?

      It's a Citroen surely?

  46. mabl4367

    If someone develops a way to produce hydrogen on the cheap and with a low impact on the envoirment then we can just use it to make alcohol or syntehtic diesel fuel for our cars.

    Problems solved! No more infra structure, transportation storage, co2, fuel cell or battery problems. We don't even need new cars!

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      @mab14367

      If we find a way to make cheap hydrogen, though, why would we want to react it with carbon dioxide (thus wasting some of the stored energy) to make a fuel which is going to continue to pollute the air of cities?

      And that's assuming we can use recovered carbon dioxide. If we have really cheap hydrogen, why not use it to replace natural gas? So one source of carbon dioxide (generator plant waste streams) would be lost.

      In the long term we probably want fuel cells because there's no NOx emission. The metals in catalytic converters may well be displaced to the fuel cells but consumption of expensive lubricants is going to go down drastically as is replacement of wearing parts.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: @mab14367

        "If we have really cheap hydrogen, why not use it to replace natural gas?"

        Because hydrogen has a tiny molecular structure and anything rated for natural gas will probably leak hydrogen like a (relative) sieve. Not a problem for short pipe lengths but when you factor in hundreds of miles of pipeline (lots of surface area to diffuse through) at relatively high pressures (more diffusion) there's an economic benefit in tacking on at least one carbon atom to make methane or ethane (methane attacks metals too, so ethane or heavier is better)

  47. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

    Two questions:

    - who is bankrolling this?

    - why is the steering wheel on the wrong side?

    1. TRT Silver badge

      re:why is the steering wheel on the wrong side?

      You think it should be on the outside?

  48. TechGeezer

    hmmm...

    Looks like it was designed by people for people that hate cars.

    Hardly revolutionary either. Hydrogen propulsion in one for or other has been around for years. It'll be the implementation of infrastructure that will impress the hell out of me if it ever comes to any sort of fruition...

  49. briesmith

    Perpetual Motion Again

    Something wrong with all this?

    Regardless of the chemistry used, the energy cost of splitting hydrogen away from its accompanying atom (probably oxygen - there is no free hydrogen around I know of, well, not within 93m miles or so) is at least equivalent to the energy value of re-combining it in an engine to create motive power.

    How will that basic thermodynamic equation ever change?

    And if that is the case how is it conceivable that the hydrogen energy equation can ever stack up against petrol/lpg which is now so cheap and likely to remain so as other uses of oil fade away?

    Were petrol/lpg getting more expensive then hydrogen might have a chance but with it reducing in price how can it ever work? Particularly when its energy density and portability are factored in?

    I think petrol will remain unchallenged until such time as our understanding of batteries improves to the extent there is a step change in their performance (cost, weight, recycling time etc) or we get fusion engines for vehicles.

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: Perpetual Motion Again

      There is a paper by a Total executive explaining how as oil sources dry up - and they will - eventually the price of oil will rise so that oil companies stay profitable on diminishing reserves. As this happens alternative technologies gradually take over as their costs fall below the increasing oil price.

      Oil price has dipped because the Saudis are in a bid to prevent this from happening sooner rather than later. They are sacrificing revenue in an attempt to kill alternative technologies and discourage future investment in them, in the hope that the long term oil price will therefore spike much higher and their importance to the US will stay high. They also hope that low prices now will hold off a recession in the mid term, while damaging their feared competitors - Russia and Iran.

      Like all attempts to use economics as a tool for foreign policy, it is not long term sustainable. I suspect that in 2025 Prime Minister Boris Johnson will be frantically trying to blame everybody else for Hinckley Point not going ahead, and the lack of wind farms, as the oil price spikes uncontrollably.

    2. Grunchy

      Re: Perpetual Motion Again

      I suppose you're right, those dumbies! Didn't they realize they were doomed to fail?

      I confirmed what you say by the way, I went to the gas station "NO HYDROGEN ON THE PREMISES".

  50. Grunchy
    Devil

    Car-2-Go alternative? I'm into it, if it's cheap enough.

    It looks way better minus the body, but if it's just a short-term rental heck I don't care what it looks like.

    Big hint though: the App needs to say "HEY DONT FORGET YOUR PARCELS !!!!!" when you go to leave the car behind. Big letters. Maybe even an auditory warning.

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dumbest thing ever

    The efficiency of producing the hydrogen in the first place is horribly bad. The emission are massive just to produce the hydrogen. Hydrogen is a massive fire and explosion hazard. Hydrogen is just about the worst material to come into contact with metals.

    Face it people, hydrogen cars will never survive, because there is no point ever to use hydrogen as a fuel. Hydrogen is just a party trick --- look I burned something and just got water. But when you take into account the cost of producing the hydrogen ((was it something like 75% loss of energy )from natural gas usually) the losses of the process can never compete with electrical cars.

    I believe in coming up with good excuses to get money to do research but it is really sad when people drink their own propaganda and miss out on the big picture.

    1. x 7 Silver badge

      Re: Dumbest thing ever

      "The efficiency of producing the hydrogen in the first place is horribly bad."

      not if you use cold fusion

      Fleishmann and Pons must have been on to something, how else did they generate the hydrogen they found?

      1. Scorchio!!

        Re: Dumbest thing ever

        "Fleishmann and Pons must have been on to something, how else did they generate the hydrogen they found?"

        Regrettably no. It's been replicated time and again - all science must be replicable or it cannot in principle be falsified, which it must in order to not be religious fantasy - and nothing came out of it.

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Dumbest thing ever

      "Face it people, hydrogen cars will never survive, because there is no point ever to use hydrogen as a fuel. Hydrogen is just a party trick --- look I burned something and just got water. But when you take into account the cost of producing the hydrogen ((was it something like 75% loss of energy )from natural gas usually) the losses of the process can never compete with electrical cars."

      Not even with High-Temperature Electrolysis?

  52. Ken 16 Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Oh, the Humanity!

    Why not "Excelsior"?

  53. Adam Nealis

    Sinclair C6?

    Looks like a cheap and nasty version of the cars in the Gerry Anderson "UFO" TV series.

  54. 101

    Leap Frog

    This is a leap frog technology move. A great one at that.

    SO, I would get a grant from the government such that the vehicles are available only on a subsidized lease. Also, there should be some incentive where for every, say 50 leased vehicles, in a given area, say 15km, the government subsidizes a fueling station as part of an existing gasoline station.

    Also, I liked to add it needs a little more power. Go faster, more acceleration. That certainly can be done.

  55. JDEvolutionist

    Dare I say 'typically British' - lots of boffin, little design, and no commercial input. A shame!

  56. Adrian Tawse

    Zero Emissions!

    Currently hydrogen is produced by mixing methane with super heated steam. This produces carbon dioxide and hydrogen. The super heated steam is made by burning - you got it - more methane. Unfortunately the reaction is endothermic, it absorbs heat, so more heat has to be supplied - by burning more methane. Producing hydrogen by electrolysis is still far to inefficient. In any way, the electricity will be produced by - burning methane. This car is not "Zero Emissions" it just has a long tailpipe.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Zero Emissions!

      "Producing hydrogen by electrolysis is still far to inefficient."

      Not even high-temperature electrolysis? Plus you can just use electrolysis to even out power spikes in low-demand times.

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