Riversimple_Urban_Car_77_1London, England – Thirty lightweight hydrogen fuel cell-powered cars will go into operation as part of a 12-month pilot project in Leicester, England. The cars are produced by sustainable car company Riversimple, which signed an agreement with Leicester City Council to find private citizens and organizations to test-drive the vehicles, and locate and operate a suitable refuelling point.

The project will be up and running by the spring of 2012, and if it is a success, Leicester and Riversimple will discuss the potential of a factory located in the area to produce 5,000 cars a year. Riversimple plans to run a second pilot in parallel with another U.K. city.

The two-seat vehicle was designed by a team of British motorsport engineers and was built at Silverstone. It has a maximum cruising speed of 80 km/h, weighs 350 kg, and has a range of at least 321 km on a tank of hydrogen.

Customers will not buy the cars outright, but will pay a fixed monthly and all-inclusive per-mile charge to use the vehicles, similar to a mobile phone contract. The estimated monthly cost will be around £200, plus 15p per mile, including fuel. Customers will provide feedback to improve the car and the driving experience.

“We are delighted to have found, in Leicester, a city which realizes that the goal of sustainable transport means that words have to be turned into actions,” said Hugo Spowers, founder of Riversimple. “By signing this deal we will both become pioneers. The age of fossil-fuelled cars may not be over yet, but it is surely dying. Contrary to what we usually hear, sustainable, near pollution-free transport is possible, here and now, using existing technology.”

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