Speaking last week at the BMW CleanEnergy World Tour in London, BMW chairman of the board of management, Dr Helmut Panke praised the UK Government for recognising the need to incentivise the use of hydrogen as a road fuel.
BMW has developed a hydrogen-powered internal combustion engine that burns hydrogen in oxygen to produce nothing but heat and water as emissions. The manufacturer expects to have its first 7-series models powered by the fuel available to buy in the next four to five years.
Panke said: 'I think the UK Government is one of the leaders, if not the leader, in the world on this point.
'The hydrogen powered society will happen, and from BMW's point of view, we will continue to invest in this development, and we look for government initiatives and investment.
'The departments of Trade and Industry, Transport, Environment and the Treasury are already doing much to start preparing for the hydrogen economy. I can only congratulate the British Government on this foresight and I wish to express my encouragement in this task.'
The British Government needs to find ways of hitting its Kyoto and European Union agreements on reducing emissions of global warming gases such as carbon dioxide, and is betting on hydrogen as a key element in its long-term strategy.
Minister for Transport David Jamieson MP said: 'It is very clear to us that hydrogen has a key role in the journey to a low carbon economy.'
The Chancellor said the Government would exempt hydrogen used as a road fuel from fuel duty for a limited time to encourage its 'further development and early take-up'.
This move was also welcomed by the Energy Saving Trust which believes 'in the longer term, fuel cell vehicles powered by hydrogen have the potential to offer the most significant climate and air quality benefits'.
'The exemption of hydrogen from fuel duty and the provision of enhanced capital allowances for installing a hydrogen refuelling infrastructure are useful first steps in what may be a long journey towards a hydrogen transport economy,' said an EST spokesman.