On 23 and 24 October 2012, Air Liquide, Daimler, Hyundai, Honda, Intelligent Energy, Opel and Toyota united to offer 30-minute test-drives to Members of the European Parliament as well as staff and guests.

The event which was hosted by Brian Simpson, Chair of the Transport Committee aims to introduce fuel cells and hydrogen technologies to MEPs and highlight their potential for tackling transport emissions and contributing to a more secure, sustainable and competitive transport system in Europe. The event was complemented by refilling demonstrations at a mobile station brought to Strasbourg for the occasion by Air Liquide and the possibility to talk to experts on H2mobility.

A high-level lunchtime debate was organised to discuss how to get clean vehicles onto the road and deploy hydrogen’s unique storage properties to drive the transition to smart energy and transport. The Drive ‘n’ Ride was sponsored by Linde, Hydrogenics, ITM Power, Shell and Nissan.

“The future of European transport is very high on the European Parliament’s agenda. We need to find ways to make our transport system more sustainable and environmentally responsible while contributing to the economic recovery and growth in Europe. Deployment of practical and efficient clean technologies is an indispensable part of the solution for a low-carbon transport system. Europe can’t miss this opportunity,” stated Brian Simpson MEP ahead of the event.

The event followed the announcements by national governments in Germany, the UK and Scandinavian countries to support market introduction of fuel cell electric vehicles and refuelling stations. The German government has already announced that it intends to increase its current network of hydrogen refuelling stations from 14 50 by 2015. “Fuel cell electric vehicles and the refuelling technology are clean, safe and ready for deployment. They live up to expectations and are comparable to internal combustion engine vehicles in terms of range and performance. The key question now is how to bring them to the market as a competitive option,” added Pierre Etienne Franc, Director of Technologies of the Future at Air Liquide and Chairman of the public-private partnership, the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking. According to the European Commission, the EU is currently the world’s largest producer of motor vehicles, producing almost a third of the world’s passenger cars. As such it has the expertise to lead the world in developing a market for hydrogen fuel cell cars.