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Porsche family member to chair Riversimple

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Sebastian Piech, a member of the family that founded Porsche and ran Volkswagen, has been appointed chairman of Riversimple, the UK company developing hydrogen fuel cell cars.

Mr Piech takes over from Professor John Constable DBA who died last month after a short illness.

Riversimple, which is involved in a new minimum £20 million fundraising round in which the Piech family are participating, plans to have 60 cars involved in trials in two UK areas next year, the first large-scale trial of hydrogen-fuelled cars in the country.

Riversimple is aiming to produce highly energy-efficient vehicles for personal transport. The company’s first project, a two-seat local ‘Network Electric’ car, is powered by hydrogen fuel cells, with an innovative design and made from advanced composites; the design emphasis is on efficiency and it achieves energy consumption equivalent to 300 miles per gallon on petrol. It has a top speed of 50 mph, can accelerate from 0-30 mph in 5.5 seconds, and has a range of 240 miles.

The technology demonstrator vehicle was unveiled in June 2009. It is a development platform for the powertrain technology, designed to show what is possible with today’s technology.

Sebastian Piech said: “The Riversimple car and its new business model, which involves leasing the cars rather than selling them, is the way forward for the motor industry. We aim to build a profitable company that has sustainability at its heart. Others will follow.”

Mr Piech has been actively involved in strategy via the supervisory board of the vehicle distributor Porsche Holding Austria, Europe’s largest automotive retail business.

Riversimple founder Hugo Spowers said: “We were all very saddened by the death of John Constable and we were very lucky to have his wisdom and experience available over the years. Sebastian has been with the company since the start and shares our vision and values. The fact that a scion of one of Europe’s most famous auto families is actively involved in an innovative company like Riversimple is a pointer to the future of the auto business. We look forward to calling on his tremendous experience in business, marketing and engineering.”

Sebastian Piech is the founder and Chairman of bScope based in Tokyo and Shanghai focusing on nurturing and developing long term, sustainable (socially & environmentally) business ventures and seed-stage opportunities in China.

For many years he has also been involved in international strategic business development for Porsche Holding, Europe’s largest automotive retail business.