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The Hyundai Tucson is available as a fuel-cell SUV in N. America (Photo: Hyundai)

Members of a newly formed "Hydrogen Council" committed to increased investment in the development and commercialization of hydrogen and fuel-cell technologies.

The global initiative, aimed at helping ambitious worldwide plans to limit global warming, was unveiled during the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Auto-industry members of the council are BMW, Daimler, Honda, Hyundai and Toyota. Other members are Air Liquide, Alstom, Anglo American, ENGIE, Kawasaki, Royal Dutch Shell, Linde and Total.

In a press release, the 13-member council pledged to position hydrogen as a key solution for the world's energy transition.

The member companies, which today spend 1.4 billion euros a year on hydrogen-related projects, said they will accelerate their investments but didn't provide details of increased spending plans. They warned that "key stakeholders" also will have to increase their backing of hydrogen "with appropriate policies and supporting schemes."

The council is likely to step up its promotional activities to gain greater acceptance of the potential of hydrogen and fuel-cell technologies. Those efforts will target governments as well as the general public.

The group "will seek collaboration, cooperation and understanding from governments, industry and most importantly, the public," Toyota Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada said in the press release.

Many carmakers are engaged in advanced R&D to build and commercialize a fuel-cell-powered electric vehicle and Toyota and Hyundai are among car companies that have already done so, albeit in limited volumes.

The auto industry and companies in other sectors agree that efforts are held back by infrastructure deficits, most notably the absence of a network of hydrogen refueling stations.

Said Benoit Potier, CEO of industrial gas group Air Liquide: "We need governments to back hydrogen with actions of their own ”“ for example through large-scale infrastructure investment schemes."