A hydrogen fuel-cell prototype vehicle developed by the UK company Riversimple will be one of the main exhibits in a new gallery devoted to climate science which opens tomorrow at London's Science Museum.

Riversimple was founded by the British engineer Hugo Spowers and enjoys financial backing from a branch of the Piëch family. The company's fuel-cell car is a two-seater with a composite body which is about the same size as a Smart Fortwo; drive is provided by four electric motors and the set-up also incorporates regenerative braking.

Thirty of the Riversimple cars will be trialled in Leicester in 2012, and the company hopes to set up a similar pilot project in a second city as well.

Riversimple will sell mobility as a service, rather than allowing customers to buy its cars directly, an approach already being adopted by some of the big motor manufacturers for their electric vehicles. On the other hand, the company plans to challenge existing motor industry business models by licensing its design on an “open-source” basis and pioneering distributed small-scale local production as an alternative to the large plants operated by the established car-makers. Riversimple hopes that this approach will allow its car to become the world's first commercially viable fuel-cell vehicle.

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