New rules proposed by the European Commission (EC) recently could pave the way for a simpler and uniformed gateway for the sale of hydrogen powered vehicles throughout the European Union (EU).

The EC proposed that hydrogen cars ready for the market should be included in the EU’s ‘type approval’ system which determines whether vehicles meet the required standards, a move that would simplify the approval of hydrogen vehicles and ensure uniform standards were in place throughout the 27-nation bloc.

An EU executive also announced it would help fund a programme of hydrogen research and development, called the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Technology Initiative. This support would involve an investment of €470m over 6 years, a sum that would be matched European Industry.

The proposals however, require approval from the European Parliament and EU governments before they can enter force.

Industry Commissioner Guenter Verheugen noted that he did not expect to see many hydrogen cars on the roads in Europe in the next decade, but affirmed that petrol-powered vehicles would someday be a thing of the past.

“The car of the future will be different from what we know today. It will not be driven by petrol or diesel,” Verheugen said.

In the more immediate future, the Commission is expected to unveil legislation before the end of 2007, laying out how car companies must reduce emissions of greenhouse gas, CO2.