A vehicle dubbed as “the most energy efficient car on the planet” could be built in Aberdeen creating more than 800 jobs.
The designer of the Rasa hydrogen fuel cell-powered car is running the rule over Aberdeen as a location to produce 5,000 cars a year – if the right incentives can be provided, including those available to companies and investors via a green freeport.
Riversimple – the inventor of the pioneering lightweight, two-seater eco coupe – is in active talks about locating a 150,000sq ft manufacturing plant in Aberdeen, which it has described as a “leading hydrogen city”.
The Wales-based company has signed a letter confirming that the north-east is “attractive” due to “hydrogen initiatives already underway”.
This includes the two hydrogen refuelling stations servicing the council’s fleet of electric vehicles as well as the city’s partnership with energy firm BP, which includes plans to set up a green hydrogen production hub.
Another temptation would be if the city wins green freeport status, which would “make the region even more attractive to us, increasing significantly the likelihood of our investment into the region”, the letter said.
Green freeport status… would make the region even more attractive to us, increasing significantly the likelihood of our investment into the region.”
The intervention from the company comes as the UK and Scottish governments decide which areas will be granted the status as part of a £52 million project.
Five areas in Scotland have thrown their hat into the ring, but only two will be successful.
Backers of the North East Scotland Green Freeport bid have calculated that the status would support as many as 32,000 jobs and deliver an £8.5 billion boost to the regional economy.
Meanwhile, Opportunity Cromarty Firth, the consortium leading a bid for a green free port on the west coast, has estimated it could create a “super wind hub” on the firth, attracting £2.5 billion of private sector investment and creating 25,000 jobs across the Highlands if it succeeds in winning the status.
Riversimple is one of the first companies to explicitly indicate willingness to invest in a factory in Scotland based on tax incentives available to those setting up in a green freeport.
The company is currently beta testing a small fleet of Rasas which it designed at its headquarters in Llandrindod Wells.
It has said it plans to build a mass production plant for the Rasa in Powys, Wales, but the company also has a beta version in development and further plans to develop a light commercial delivery van as well as a five-seater family vehicle.
WATCH: The Rasa was given a test drive by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
The company’s founder, Hugo Spowers, has said the two-seater eco coupe is “the most energy efficient car on the planet”.
Meanwhile, the BBC’s Top Gear has billed it as “the car which wants to save the world”.
Oxford University trained engineer and entrepreneur Mr Spowers – who was made an MBE in June – has visited the north-east to scope out potential sites after being invited by Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce.
The Rasa’s statistics
The engineering of Riversimple cars is unique compared to other similar vehicles on the market.
The hydrogen in the fuel cell goes via a proton exchange membrane, where it interacts with oxygen to generate water and electricity. The electricity is then routed to the motors located in each wheel. These motors are compact, lightweight, and provide four-wheel drive to the vehicle.
When the car stops, the kinetic energy that is commonly lost as heat gets caught as electricity. This electricity flows into a bank of supercapacitors at the front of the car as the car slows.
The Riversimple Rasa – from the Latin for tabula rasa or “clean slate” – has a 300-mile range while emitting just water and delivers more than 200 mpg equivalent.
It has a top speed of only 60 mph, but because of the car’s clever construction, it reaches that pace in under 10 seconds.
The Rasa’s performance:
• 0-60mph in 9.7 seconds
• Cruises at 60mph
• Designed for a range of c.300 miles on 1.5kg of hydrogen
• Weighs just 655kg
Rasa in the north-east?
Representatives from the company will join parliamentarians and business leaders at a private business breakfast in the Palace of Westminster Wednesday morning hosted by Banff & Buchan MP David Duguid – as the region takes its Green Freeport campaign to London.
Riversimple has since signed a letter supporting the North East Scotland Green Freeport bid.
The letter states: “One of the locations we are considering for the establishment of operations is the North East of Scotland.
“We are in discussions with regional partners about the possibility of establishing a manufacturing plant…encouraging the clustering of supply chain companies and other OEMs (original equipment manufacturer) within the hydrogen sector.”
The Riversimple letter adds: “Aberdeen, as a leading hydrogen city, and the surrounding region is attractive to our business on account of the hydrogen initiatives already underway.
“These include the rolling out of hydrogen-powered buses and commercial vehicles operating in the city, the joint venture partnership between the city council and BP to deliver the Aberdeen Hydrogen Hub and the Acorn Hydrogen project at St Fergus.
“North East Scotland Green Freeport, with its stated aim of making the north-east of Scotland the net zero capital of Europe and a global pioneer of hydrogen energy, would make the region even more attractive to us, increasing significantly the likelihood of our investment into the region.”
The North East Scotland Green Freeport consortium is led by the Port of Aberdeen, Peterhead Port Authority, Aberdeen International Airport, and the region’s two local authorities.