'Open-source' car gets a boost as details appear on the internet
6 January 2010

The project to provide a low-cost, ‘open source’ design for a fuel cell car that anyone can access and build has taken a step closer to reality with the publishing of the first engineering drawings online.

All of the designs for Riversimple’s Hyrban will be published on the web, starting with the car’s rear suspension layout. The idea is to speed up development by gathering criticism and comment from users, which will also help to cut the costs of the technology.

“One of our hopes is that the open-source community will speed up development of the fuel cell and electrical network, as well as other key technologies,” said Hugo Spowers, a key partner in the Riversimple project and the man behind Morgan’s Lifecar fuel cell prototype.

The two-seat Hyrban will then be licensed at a low cost in order to bring the technology to market faster than if conventional methods were used. Riversimple has talked about a licence fee as low as £7 per car. Engineering development and UK production will be the responsibility of Riversimple, which is backed by the Piech family fortune.

The model for this unusual arrangement is ‘open code’ computer software such as Mozilla and Linux, which are open to use by any organisation for a minimal licensing fee as an alternative to the market-dominant Microsoft. Within the car industry, Riversimple puts Ford and GM in the same bracket as Microsoft.

The first 10 Hyrban prototypes are planned to be running by the end of next year as part of a plan to make up to 5000 a year in the UK, matched by production in other countries.

Julian Rendell

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6 January 2010

Pronunciation looks like a bit of an issue, but otherwise this is exciting. Something authentically new and revolutionary.

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