Government funding of £1.25m has been awarded to Riversimple, a manufacturer of hydrogen electric cars based in Wales, to support production of a test fleet of 20 vehicles.

The grant, from the government’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV), will support the production of 17 of Riversimple’s car, the Rasa, which will complement three other Rasa models. The fleet will be user-tested in a 12-month trial in and around Abergavenny, in Monmouthshire.

The trial, involving 200 testers – including households, businesses, car clubs and councils – will provide data and user insight that will be used to refine the design and the customer proposition further, ahead of volume production.

Founder and chief engineer of Riversimple Hugo Spowers said: “This funding award will support us to complete our first production run of the Riversimple Rasa.

“In partnership with Monmouthshire County Council these cars will form part of the pioneering Clean Mobility Trial which will see 12 months of user testing allowing us to improve our customer offer and to promote localised refuelling infrastructure.

“We are hopeful that, following the trial, other local authorities will engage with us to explore similar deployments of Riversimple vehicles in their local areas.”

The Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) said: “The innovative technology these vehicles use has long range (300-plus miles) and fast refuelling (3-5 minutes) capability, and will support the Industrial Strategy Future of Mobility Grand Challenge to place the UK at the forefront of the design and manufacturing of zero emission vehicles.”

Rinversimple does not intend to sell the Rasa and instead will offer it on an all-inclusive, service basis, with the cost of road tax, insurance and fuel included.

The company plans to boost hydrogen infrastructure in the UK by developing communities of users around each filling station. Over the next 20 years, Riversimple plans to build a distributed network of manufacturing plants.