On-road tests for fuel-cell car

A car powered by a hydrogen fuel-cell powered car is to be tested on British roads by the public for the first time.

Thirty of the cars, which have a top speed of 50mph and can go 200 miles on one tank of hydrogen, will be leased to motorists in Leicester from spring 2012.

The two-seater car has been developed by Riversimple, a small British manufacturer based in Ludlow, Shropshire. The prototype was built at Silverstone, Northamptonshire.

If the trials are successful, the company will consider building a factory in Leicester which would employ 250 people and manufacture 5,000 of the cars each year.

The cars would not be sold but instead leased out to drivers for about £200 a month plus mileage.

So far the company has spent around £3 million developing the technology and the car, which goes from 0-30mph in 5.5 seconds and does the petrol-equivalent of 300 miles per gallon.

It has now signed a deal with Leicester City Council for a 12-month pilot which will see 30 of the cars rented out to private customers, businesses, car-share schemes and local government officials in the city.

Part of the project involves identifying suitable places for hydrogen pumps where drivers can refuel.

Hugo Spowers, the founder of Riversimple, said: "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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