The Riversimple is a hydrogen-powered city car with a radically different "open source" production and design model. If a company takes the design and improves on it they have to share it with everyone else.
The idea of a hydrogen-fueled auto industry has lost popularity recently due to advances in battery technology and a renewed interest in regular electric vehicles, with their more-readily-built-in fueling infrastructure. The Riversimple hopes to address these issues in two ways.
First, the vehicle will be leased with all fuel and repairs included at a cost of approximately $315 per month. This means there's an impetus for the company to continue to build more efficient vehicles. The manufacturer has partnered with a British gas supply company to install hydrogen stations in cities where the vehicle prototypes rollout.
Second, the company will distribute the plans through the non-profit company 40 Fires Foundation, which will allow smaller manufacturers to build the cars themselves and improve/adapt them for their markets assuming they share those plans with the company.
The prototype is made of lightweight composites and is able to achieve the equivalent of 300 MPG with a top speed of 50 MPH. Electric motors at each corners, combined with ultracapacitors, allow for zippy performance. The company has set 2013 as a goal for production. [Riversimple]
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