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RIVERSIMPLE: a new business model in the car industry

1. Organizational Governance

Strategy and organization


Riversimple is a united kingdom-based transportation company focused on producing environmentally conscious automobiles. It was founded in 2007 by former motorsport engineer and racing driver Hugo Spowers. Their purpose: the systematic elimination of the environmental impact of personal transport. By changing its governance, its internal organisation and its relationship with all the stakeholders, Riversimple has created a new form of business system that aligns their interests with those of their customers but also of the environment.


  • Elimination of the environmental impact of personal transport.
  • Align the company’s interests with the customers’ and the environments.
  • Have a small distributed manufacturing model: each will produce around 5,000 cars a year.


The Riversimple Urban Car has been developed over the last three years in a co-operative research programme with several British Universities but also several specialized companies and professionals such as Porsche’s grand grand son’s Sebastian Piech. In order to achieve this, Riversimple had to reinvent the whole business model starting with a functional economy approach. The cars are built to be leased and not sold.

Also, Riversimple has horizontal governance. In this structure each stakeholder group has an equal stake. The company is answerable to six custodians who represent each of their stakeholders and hold the voting shares: customers, investors, the environment, the community, the staff and other commercial partners. The six Custodians appoint five members of the board of directors, and agree on the strategy. 

This equal voting structure means that no single interest can dominate the company to the detriment of another. 

Because of this new model, Riversimple did not have to adapt his work tools to new technologies but was able, from the start, to align their interest with those of the society and the environment.

Riversimple also has an open-source approach, which means entrepreneurs around the world can download the designs and manufacture the prototype car locally for free.


  • The « open source » policy reduces the company’s costs.
  • Prototypes only


  • Clean cars: 31g of CO2/KM (prototype)
  • Horizontal governance which allows for communication and transparency among the stakeholders
36 salariés (2013)
United Kingdom


Hugo Spowers

Mise à jour le 13/11/2017

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