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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Riversimple looking for Australian partners

Three founders behind the British Riversimple ‘open-source’ hydrogen fuel-cell electric city car are touring Australia to sound out interest among automotive suppliers and government agencies.

In Melbourne last week as part of their mission to spread the Riversimple message was Riversimple founder and team leader Hugo Spowers, a former motor racing engineer.

Mr Spowers said: “We are seeking international partners to enter joint ventures and pursue the Riversimple model in regions across the world, tailoring the vehicle and the service to local needs and conditions.”

The Riversimple demonstration car is an interesting experimental vehicle said to have been developed for 'just' $A815,000, but the Riversimple business model is pretty ridiculous really.

Drivers are asked to lease the car for a monthly fee of around ₤200 ($A350) and a mileage charge of 15p (A$0.26c), which is around 13x the cost of running a plug-in battery EV from grid power. All fuel costs are included in the fees, with refueling provided by stations set up by Riversimple, of which there are currently none.

When a lease deal expires, the car will be refurbished at the factory and then leased again. Mr Spowers said the leasing idea would be extended to suppliers as well. Thus, Riversimple would lease an electric motor from the supplier, install it in a car and then lease the car.

Aside from the inherent disadvantages of using hydrogen as a fuel, Riversimple want to make buying the car and/or the fuel it runs on from any source other than them simply impossible. Not exactly 'open' source then is it? Sounds more like the Apple Computer closed shop business model.

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