Segments in this Video

Introducing Hugo Spowers (01:29)


Silver David Cameron outlines the former race car driver's goal to green the auto industry by using hydrogen fuel technology and creating a lease based business plan.

Giving up Car Racing (02:41)

Spowers describes his environmental awakening and why he shifted from combustion engines to hydrogen fuel cells.

Rethinking Car Design (03:50)

Spowers explains that combustion engines cannot be directly replaced with hydrogen fuel cells, despite auto industry attempts. Vehicle systems must be altered, as well as the transportation context.

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology (03:38)

Power density is the main constraint to replacing combustion engines. Spowers explains that network hybrids work through interconnected energy pathways; 80% of power comes from capacitors and 50% of kinetic energy is recovered when braking.

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cost (01:39)

Spowers explains why the technology is expensive to mass produce, but cheap if power requirements are reduced.

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Function (02:50)

Spowers explains the mechanics of components working together in the hybrid system.

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Sustainability (03:15)

The system produces limited water emissions when operating, and hydrogen can be produced using renewable energy sources. Spowers explains why "tailpipe" emissions aren't useful for comparing combustion engines to other types of vehicles.

Upstream Energy Demands (02:24)

Spowers discusses how regulation is leading to investments in reducing tailpipe emissions, while fuel and vehicle production emissions should be taken into account.

Energy Sustainability (02:21)

Spowers argues for targeting energy consumption rather than vehicle emissions, and describes how hydrogen fuel cells allow greater electricity source flexibility.

Localized Vehicle Production (03:31)

Material availability compels the auto industry to create a “one size fits all” model. Spowers discusses how tailoring hydrogen fuel cell technology to specific regions reduces costs and energy consumption.

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Range (03:16)

Riversimple’s localized design travels 240 miles in a week. Spowers explains how to overcome industry hydrogen storage and power density challenges through vehicle design.

Riversimple Business Model (07:00)

Spowers discusses how hydrogen fuel cell design components increase energy efficiency, and outlines his company's lease strategy to take responsibility for "whole life" costs—gaining a comparative advantage by increasing vehicle longevity.

Internalizing Hydrogen Vehicle Costs (04:28)

Spowers explains how efficiency and longevity align his company's interests with those of the consumer, whereas the auto industry pursues obsolescence and high running costs. Future resource scarcity is likely to result in regulatory pressure.

Open Source Design (05:53)

By sharing hydrogen fuel cell technology, Riversimple avoids an industry standards war, reduces supply chain costs, and can work with independent field support companies. Entrepreneurs have already shown interest in their unofficial website.

Riversimple Sustainability Mission (02:55)

The hydrogen vehicle company works systematically towards the elimination of environmental impacts of personal transport. Spowers explains the importance of setting an ambitious, long term goal.

Riversimple Governance Model (05:37)

Spowers explains how the company has aligned investor and social goals through transparency and by meeting the needs of business stakeholders.

Riversimple Stakeholders (03:33)

Spowers identifies investors, the environment, staff, vehicle users, commercial partners, and neighbors as being represented on the board and balancing the decision making process.

Riversimple Inspiration (04:40)

Spowers' company uses examples from employee-owned companies in the U.S. and U.K. They address fundamental conflicts of interest in traditional corporate structures by aligning shareholder and social interests.

Retaining Sustainability Values (03:07)

Spowers compares his company's vision to that of Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard; rather than relying on one leader they are building a democratic system of governance that can be replicated.

Riversimple Market (07:25)

Spowers hopes to offer his hydrogen fuel cell mobility service by 2015. Demand for localized cars will increase, and gas companies investing in fueling infrastructure will allow the company to increase its U.K. network incrementally.

Disruptive Technology Concept (06:11)

Spowers explains how gas companies can profit from installing hydrogen fueling stations. His company is starting in a niche market, but he predicts it will move into the mainstream after generating early market revenue.

Local Transport Movement (04:19)

Spowers describes how his hydrogen fuel cell vehicle service fits into the localized product niche market. Instead of waiting for environmental regulation, Riversimple is creating a sustainable model for early adopters.

Credits: Inventing a Truly Sustainable Auto Industry: Hugo Spowers (00:15)

Credits: Inventing a Truly Sustainable Auto Industry: Hugo Spowers

For additional digital leasing and purchase options contact a media consultant at 800-257-5126
(press option 3) or

Inventing a Truly Sustainable Auto Industry: Hugo Spowers

DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



This episode of The Green Interview features Hugo Spowers—engineer, entrepreneur, and former racing car driver—who uses his love of auto design to tackle one of the most intractable environmental questions: how to neutralize our passionate addiction to the automobile. Through his pioneering company, Riversimple, based in Ludlow, Shropshire, England, Spowers and his colleagues have taken on the modest task of eliminating environmental damage caused by personal transport. Riversimple is building an alternative car out of unconventional materials, using a unique fuel: hydrogen. And Riversimple won’t sell cars—they’ll sell you transportation services. You can lease one of their cars, and Riversimple will recycle it when the car is worn out. In another inside-out move, the company gives away its technology freely over the Internet, and offers to help others to use the technology to build their own green cars. In this Green Interview, Spowers tells us how he and his colleagues have reimagined and redesigned not just the automobile, but the entire auto industry. (87 minutes)

Length: 87 minutes

Item#: BVL56736

ISBN: 978-0-81609-147-8

Copyright date: ©2012

Closed Captioned

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.

Not available to Home Video customers.