The Government has lunched a £23m fund to encourage the uptake of hydrogen vehicles through the building of new fuel stations.

At present, there are just 12 hydrogen filling stations operational in the UK, with some not open to the public, while there are only two fuel-cell cars on sale – the Toyota Mirai and Hyundai ix35.

From the summer, hydrogen fuel providers will be able to bid for funding in partnership with manufacturers to help build new infrastructure, the Government said.

The Government said this funding ties in with its plans to cut carbon emissions (it has repeatedly stated its aim is for almost all new cars and vans to emit nothing by 2040) and deliver economic opportunities for the country.

“The transition to zero-emission road transport is both inevitable and desirable as it will improve air quality in many of our towns and cities. Hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles can play a vital role alongside battery electric vehicles to help us cut harmful emissions,” said transport minister, John Hayes. “We know availability of hydrogen refuelling infrastructure can be a potential obstacle to the take-up of hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles.”

Paul Van der Burgh, president and managing director of Toyota GB, added: “Toyota believes hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles can play an important role in the transition to a low-carbon, low-emissions society. We chose the UK as one of the first international markets for our Mirai hydrogen fuel-cell car and are pleased that the Government is investing in this programme to encourage the further development of refuelling infrastructure and the wider uptake of fuel-cell vehicles.”