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Redesigning the car

Hugo Spowers MBE, Managing Director, Riversimple Movement Ltd.

“Being in the UK gives us access to an excellent network of technical companies connected to the auto, motorsport and aerospace sectors.”

For Hugo Spowers, achieving sustainable automotive transport requires not only zero carbon technology, but a rethought business model for car use and ownership. There is currently no incentive for manufacturers to prioritise sustainability when their current revenue is based on car sales and replacement of parts.

Proof of concept car, built to showcase a new business model for car ownership.
Proof of concept car, built to showcase a new business model for car ownership.

Two core innovative principles are key to the development of a sustainable, low carbon footprint consumer car. Firstly, the car needs to be designed at a system level where the system, rather than the components of the system, is optimised for a new propulsion method. Second, in order to align incentives for car makers with sustainability requirements, there needs to be a new business model that makes sustainability profitable.

Hugo’s team have removed redundant systems and designed a car using lightweight, high-quality materials, with the lower component count translating to increased reliability and longevity. Their current proof of concept two-seater car has electric motors in each of the four wheels, and is powered by hydrogen fuel cell technology which emits nothing but water.

Each powertrain component is connected, and energy can flow in either direction on any path, except back to the fuel cell. As the car slows down, supercapacitors cope with the rapid charge supplied by all-wheel regenerative braking, but do not store a lot of energy. Instead, this energy flows back to the motors and provides the power for fast acceleration.

The vehicles are not designed to be sold. Instead, a new business model has been designed which supplies the car to the driver through an all-inclusive package covering fuel costs and upgrades for the contract duration. By paying for all fuel costs, the priority for Riversimple becomes efficiency and durability of the car, ultimately aligning business profitability with low environmental impact.

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