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Page last updated at 11:52 GMT, Monday, 14 June 2010 12:52 UK
Hydrogen powered cars are launched in Leicester

Leicester's hydrocar in action

Innovative hydrogen powered cars could be taking to the streets of Leicester in 2012 thanks to a new deal between the city council and Riversimple.

The 12 month pilot scheme will be the first of its kind in the UK and will allow residents and organisations to test-drive the vehicles.

The prototype of the car was built at the Silverstone racing circuit

It has a maximum speed of 50mph, and can travel at least 200 miles on a single tank of hydrogen.

The car's body is made of lightweight composites which weigh only 350kg, and modern technology used in the car mean it can do the equivalent of 300 miles per gallon.

Hugo Spowers

Customers will be able to lease the cars at a cost of £200 a month and 15p a mile for driving, which includes all the fuel.

Hydrogen is purchased using a smart card which is billed to the company.

If the scheme is a success there will be a fleet of 30 cars on the streets of Leicester.

A mixture of customers will be sought to trial the car next year, including local government, businesses, and retail customers.

The project team are also hoping to attract car share schemes and car clubs.

From pilot to the road

Founder Hugo Spowers has been working on the development of the hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles for the past 10 years.

"The most important thing for us is to generate subjective feedback about what it's like to own the car on this basis as it is completely different to the way you would go into a show room and buy a car and then are responsible for servicing and so on.

"All these costs are bundled and we think it will be a much more convenient package.

"At the moment it's still in the first stages but the plan is to develop it into five-seater family cars that can be used on motorways. They will always be light, but not always so small".

If the pilot is a success, Leicester and Riversimple will also discuss the potential of Leicester being the site for a factory producing 5,000 cars a year.

Another pilot scheme is also planned for elsewhere in the UK.


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