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Hydrogen car with Norfolk link revealed

PUBLISHED: 17:15 16 June 2009 | UPDATED: 10:11 06 July 2010

It could be the future of motoring - clean, efficient and lightweight, with links to international car marque Porsche. And it has been created with the input of a Norfolk motorsports consultant.

It could be the future of motoring - clean, efficient and lightweight, with links to international car marque Porsche.

And it has been created with the input of a Norfolk motorsports consultant.

The new hydrogen-powered two-seater Riversimple Urban Car was shown off at Somerset House in London yesterday.

Capable of speeds of up to 50mph, able to travel 240 miles without refuelling and weighing just 350kg, the car could be put into production as soon as 2013.

Before that, the project leaders plan to raise funds to build 10 prototypes and try out vehicles in UK cities.

Andrew Thorby, of Amzel, a Diss based motorsports, design and engineering company, has been centrally involved with the mechanical and structural design of the new car, including the mechanical design of the motors, control electronics and ultra capacitors.

He said: "It has been a very challenging, exciting project to be involved with.

"My main field is racing cars, and, although this looks very different, the design processes are very similar because it is all about efficiency."

Mr Thorby, who has been involved as designer or race engineer in almost every category of motor racing from Formula Ford to Formula 1, added: "It looks the business.

"This type of car, small, lightweight and high efficiency, will be a big part of the future, whether they are fuelled by hydrogen, which needs a huge infrastructure project to support it, battery or as a fuel hybrid."

Supported by the great-grandson of car pioneer, Ferdinand Porsche, the Riversimple car does the petrol equivalent of 300 miles to the gallon in energy terms.

The design of the car will be placed online so that production versions can be developed to suit local requirements in urban areas.

The cars will be leased to users rather than sold, with owners receiving a maintenance, support and fuel package.

The vehicles are expected to have a lifespan of about 20 years.

The car has four electric motors attached to each wheel, and these double as brakes and generate electricity that is stored in a bank of ultra capacitors.

The car is powered by a fuel cell of just six kilowatts compared with the 100kW in some hydrogen prototypes.

It has been developed over the last three years in a co-operative research programme.

The research has been financed through initial support from industrial gas company BOC, government grants and the private support of the Piech family, including Sebastian Piech, a great-grandson of Ferdinand Porsche.

Mr Piech said: "The Riversimple Urban Car represents a major step towards practical 21st century personal transport and towards the fulfilment of my great-grandfather's ambitions for accessible personal transport, but this time combining his other passions: light weight and high efficiency.

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