New Hydrogen Car Uses Open-Sourcing to Spur Innovation

by | Jun 17, 2009

Technical details about a new British hydrogen-powered car will be freely available to other developers, in a bid to spur the sort of open-source innovation that has led to great growth in the software industry.

The Urban Car from UK-based Riversimple emits just 30 grams of carbon per kilometer, about a third less than a rival hydrogen car, reports CNN.

The Urban Car has hydrogen fuel cells linked to four electric motors running each of the car’s wheels. When braking, the electric motors capture the energy of the car decellerating, storing it in ultracapacitors. Stored energy is enough for 80 percent of the car’s acceleration needs, meaning thatthe hydrogen fuel cell — typically a weighty component — can be one-fifth the size of a fuel cell used in a normal car.

The family of Ernst Piëch, the eldest grandson of automotive legend Ferdinand Porsche, is bankrolling much of the car, which will not be for sale initially. Rather, some units will be leased out.

The open-sourcing platform should lead to rapid improvements in performance and efficiency, said Sebastian Piëch, a partner in Riversimple.

“We don’t believe that making money on IP (intellectual property) is really what’s actually happening even now. We believe that service and providing the solution for customers will be where we make money,” Piëch told CNN.

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