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Brussels, 3rd September 2008

More hydrogen cars on EU roads

The European Commission welcomes today’s support of the European Parliament for its proposal to simplify the approval of hydrogen powered vehicles. This will mark a step forward in the development and marketing of clean and safe hydrogen vehicles. As a result, they will be seen more often on Europe's streets and the European automotive industry could become more competitive by taking the lead in hydrogen technology. The EP vote is based on a compromise reached with the Member States, which is expected to adopt the package shortly.

Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen, responsible for enterprise and industry, said: "The agreement in the European Parliament is a big step forward in the introduction of hydrogen vehicles. They have the potential to make Europe's air cleaner and reduce its dependency on fossil fuels. Setting common standards will ensure high safety for citizens and will boost the competitiveness of European manufacturers. Now the EU Member Sates will have the final say and I hope for their support."

At the moment, uniform requirements for hydrogen vehicles are not included in the EU vehicle type-approval system. This poses problems for hydrogen vehicle manufacturers when trying to place these vehicles on the market in the EU. Currently, even if a vehicle obtains national or single type-approval in one Member State, it is not guaranteed that the registration of this vehicle will be authorised in all the other Member States. Further, Member States have the possibility to establish different requirements for issuing an approval certificate. This situation results in a fragmented internal market of hydrogen powered vehicles, as well as complicated and costly approval procedures, which discourages the introduction of this environmentally friendly technology.

The proposed single approval will be sufficient for the entire EU. At the same time, the Regulation will guarantee that all hydrogen vehicles put on the market in the EU are at least as safe as conventional vehicles. A Commission study shows that the simplified procedures could result in a saving of up to 124 million Euros in approval costs to vehicle manufacturers in the period 2017-2025.

Hydrogen is a clean energy carrier. When used as fuel either in combustion motors or in fuel-cell systems, it does not produce any carbon emissions (carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, unburned hydrocarbons or particulates). Thus, using hydrogen will contribute to the improvement of air quality in cities. Moreover, no greenhouse gases are produced from motor vehicles, although care will have to be taken that the production of hydrogen itself does not lead to an increase in CO2 emissions. This can be achieved by producing hydrogen from non-fossil energy sources or by CO2 sequestration.
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