World’s first hydrogen hypercar being created in heart of England

Work is starting on the world’s first hydrogen hypercar in the heart of the country. Hydrogen power start-up Viritech has picked the Horiba Mira vehicle test centre in Leicestershire as the base to design its energy efficient Apricale sports car. Viritech hopes it will be the starting point for a “cleantech revolution” based on zero emissions hydrogen fuel which it hopes to extend into HGVs, the marine sector, aerospace and general power generation.

The business hopes making energy from hydrogen – with water the only by-product – will pick up the same sort of momentum currently being experienced by battery power design. Viritech says its business model will be “design, prototype, license, repeat – targeting high-margin, recurring revenues”. It said its hypercar will have a superlight frame and will be sold in limited numbers as a shop-window for the company’s potential capabilities.

It is understood Viritech – which was incorporated in December – will be developing the Apricale over the next 18 months as it also works on a hydrogen-powered family SUV and a truck. Its new base is at the MIRA Technology Park, off the A5, near Hinckley, where it joins around 40 established and start-up businesses using MIRA’s world-class engineering and testing services. Other companies with operations there include Aston Martin, Bentley, vehicle insulation specialist Autins, vehicle handling specialist ClearMotion, Continental and Goodyear tyres, and vehicle speaker innovators Warwick Acoustics.

It comes three months after Israeli-based Ree Automotive said it was creating a £92 million global engineering centre at the technology park to work on its flat, space-saving platforms for electric cars and trucks. MIRA said the Viritech announcement was the latest in a number of agreements being finalised with next-gen vehicle engineering businesses that hope to benefit from the “unique support that MIRA Technology Park is able to offer companies as they scale”. Viritech chief executive and founder Timothy Lyons said: “Becoming a member of the HORIBA MIRA community is a game-changer for Viritech, moving us immediately into the big-league in terms of the engineering facilities and support, meaning no engineering project is now beyond us.

“The hydrogen revolution will complement mobility electrification and will account for 400 million cars, 20 million trucks and 5 million buses. And that revolution starts here.” Jack Bartlett, head of commercial and partnerships at MIRA Technology Park said, “We’re delighted to be able to support the automotive industry’s transformation across all of the challenges of electrification, connectivity and autonomy and alternative fuels and nothing could be more emblematic of the industry’s ambition than Viritech’s Apricale.

“We’re able to provide three key benefits – deep domain expertise in all aspects of automotive engineering, which means innovators are not hidebound by the cost or time constraints of developing their own capabilities; our flexible facilities allow companies to grow without relocating; and as our cluster of automotive innovators builds momentum alongside the established titans of the industry, the ability to attract and retain skilled talent that powers that growth is unmatched. “We trust these peerless MIRA Technology Park qualities will serve the Viritech mission well.” As well as working on hydrogen powered vehicle designs, Viritech is also working on a hypdrogen-powered helicopter called SkyWolf.

A spokesman said: “While leaving the development of large hydrogen powered commercial aircraft to industry giants, such as Airbus, which aims to develop the world’s first hydrogen fuelled, zero-emission commercial aircraft by 2035, Viritech’s immediate focus in aviation will be light aircraft and helicopters, providing powertrain solutions and lightweight graphene pressure vessels for both new aircraft and a potentially huge retrofit market, given the very long lifecycles of aircraft airframes.”