The government has pledged £2M to encourage public authorities to switch to zero-emission vehicles by 2050.
The fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) fleet support scheme will allow local authorities, health trusts, police forces, fire brigades and private companies to bid for funding to add hydrogen-powered vehicles to their fleets.
The government said the fund, launched by its Office for Low Emission Vehicles, could bring up to 100 more hydrogen fuel cell cars and vans onto roads by next spring – the equivalent of tripling the number of vehicles currently in use.
It said that zero-emission hydrogen vehicles are cleaner and greener than standard vehicles, and the UK is leading the way in the introduction of this technology.
The new fund comes after the government committed £5M in 2014 through the hydrogen for transport advancement programme for 12 hydrogen refuelling stations. All 12 stations are expected to be open by the end of the year.
Transport minister Andrew Jones said: “We are always looking at new ways to make the vehicles of the future cleaner, and hydrogen fuel cells are an important part of our vision for almost all cars and vans to be zero-emission by 2050.”
The money will cover up to 75% of the costs of new vehicles bought by next April (2017), as well as the cost of running them for up to three years. Support will also be available for the leasing or renting of vehicles, insurance, hydrogen fuel and servicing.
Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEV)
FCEVs emit no CO2 or other harmful pollutants, and the only by-product is pure water vapour. They also offer a driving range of more than 480km, and can be refuelled in 5 minutes using a hydrogen gas pump similar to petrol pumps.
The government said that the market and technology for hydrogen FCEVs was new but was slowly gathering pace. Vehicle manufacturers have so far introduced a small number of models, with global production currently limited to just a few thousand units.
The UK is one of only five launch markets for these vehicles: Toyota and Hyundai each have a single FCEV model for sale in the UK – the Mirai and the iX35 Fuel Cell respectively – more are planned.
Bids for the FCEV Fleet Support Scheme must be submitted by Monday 4 July 2016. Successful bidders will be informed later this year.