2.23am What Wakes You?






August 2018
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2:23AM, the podcast, Season #1, Episode #9 - Hugo Spowers, Riversimple - redesigning cars, redesigning business

2:23AM, the podcast, Season #1, Episode #9 - Hugo Spowers, Riversimple - redesigning cars, redesigning business

Wow, wow, wow...Riversimple is not just about redesigning cars and redesigning business...what Hugo and his team have done over the last 15 years is turn how we engage in business on its head. As a follow on to the last episode with Frederic Laloux, Hugo is building a business in a very traditional area (car manufacturing) but turning it completely on its head. No tinkering here. This is a new model. It is quite breathtaking. I want one of his cars, now.

Enjoy this episode.


To listen on itunes, on stitcher,



Chief engineer and founder, Hugo has a passion for zero emission vehicles. An Oxford University trained engineer and entrepreneur, he founded and ran a business designing and building racing cars and restoring historic racing cars. Environmental concerns led him away from motorsport; the focus of his MBA at Cranfield University was a feasibility study into bringing hydrogen fuel cell cars to market. He founded OScar Automotive in 2001, which became Riversimple in 2007. The first fuel cell car to emerge was the LIFECar, developed by a consortium Hugo brought together with Morgan and presented at the Geneva Motorshow in 2008. The small  Hyrban technology demonstrator followed in 2009. Hugo is responsible for all the technical aspects of the new car in development and for the architecture of the business itself.


Show notes

*2:23AM moments- will people ever wake up?

*highly efficient, resource neutral cars are entirely possible, the problem is people and politics

*much easier to work from the outside of the motor industry than from the inside

*First car complete March 2015, beta test late 2015, production 2017

*disruptive shift in technology comes from left field, starts in a niche market, the niche is too small for the incumbent, it leads to a change in segmentation of the market, and the incumbent is in a very mature market (the automotive one of the most mature markets)

*car is now unfit for purpose

*the luxury of a clean sheet of paper allows you to think much more freely

*huge constraints in changing direction

*when you bring people in from the incumbent industries you do have to be sure the people are aligned to your values and purpose

*the purpose of Riversimple is “To pursue, systematically, the elimination of the environmental impact of personal transport”

*backcasting process....imagining a future where we have got sustainable transport, leads you to make very different decisions

*being less unsustainable is still not sustainable

*trying to align the interests of all the actors in the system, rather than focusing on the technology and profit margin and trying to push that into the market

*make more money doing the right thing

*selling a performance contract on a car, will never sell a car. Selling mobility. This contact covers literally everything...fuel, road tax, cost of the car..everything. This changes completely the drivers for the business - no longer wanting to sell more cars, but to sell cars that have the lowest possible running costs/more efficient and the most longevity

*in a sale of product world you are rewarded for resource maximization..the more product you churn through the more you are rewarded. Riversimple is rewarded for resource efficiency.

*Cannot have a sustainable industrial society based on rewarding industry for the opposite of what we are trying to achieve

*Open sourcing the technology

*don't buy fuel cells for the car from suppliers but instead pay for kilowatt hours - buying the service rather than the product

*business model of this last century isn't well suited to the business model of this next century

*explicit about the fact that Riversimple does not want people to take the car through environmental guilt, but because they want it

*can't maximise the goodwill of stakeholders if their interests are subordinated to the interest of the shareholders

*6 different stakeholder groups. The investors, the environment, the customers, the staff, the commercial partners, the community (no direct commercial relationship)

*the fiduciary responsibility of the board is to pursue the purpose (as above) whilst balancing and protecting the 6 benefit streams of the custodians

*answering the need for control in a different way

*customers on a need not to know basis, vs a need to know

*have to get very used to being told it can't be done

*whole systems design - don't optimise by looking at a bit of the car, need to look at the whole system

*trying to fit a radical idea into an old context will not work

*if we had tried to do this quicker we would have failed

*to change things and implement a new model rebelliousness and courage are required

*"we are to be the architect of the future, not its victims" R. Buckminster Fuller

*three different levels of design. D1 design of product and services, D2 is the design of systems, D3 is the design of ideology




Steve Evens, Professor at Cambridge

Sebastian Piech, Chairman

Joanna Macy, 3 Levels of Change



Direct download: Hugo_Spowers_-_23102014_3.46_pm.m4a
Category:Business -- posted at: 2:09am EDT