Plans to make nearly every vehicle in the UK zero-emission by 2050 have taken a further step forward with the launch of a £2 million government fund to encourage more businesses to switch to fuel cell electric vehicles.
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 £2 million fund, launched by the government’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV), could bring up to 100 more hydrogen fuel cell cars and vans onto our roads by next spring – the equivalent of tripling the number of vehicles currently in use.
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 3 years. Support will also be available for the leasing or renting of vehicles, insurance, hydrogen fuel and servicing.
The new fund comes after the government committed £5 million in 2014 through the Hydrogen for Transport Advancement Programme for 12 hydrogen refuelling stations.
Transport Minister Andrew Jones opened the second of these stations at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington. All 12 stations are expected to be open by the end of the year, which is a significant step towards a national network.
The market and technology for hydrogen FCEVs is new but 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 5 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 – with more to come.
Bids for the FCEV Fleet Support Scheme must be submitted by Monday 4 July 2016. Successful bidders will be informed later this year.