The UK Department of Transport has had in place a tax structure for road users using busy A-roads and motorways. Road tax collections in the UK annually are in the estimates of about £10 billion. But it still requires that the Transport Department find newer ways and means to increase road funding revenues by encouraging people to use vehicles on the roads less frequently. An average driver pays up to £250 a year on road taxes and levies. At the forefront of such taxation schemes is the imperative need to not only meet increases in budgets for road funding but more importantly to promote use of lighter and smaller vehicles and less CO2 emissions. On a larger level, these and other measures highlight the growing trends in the automobile industry towards making more fuel-efficient cars that are less dependent on fossil fuels by finding alternative fuel sources and to manufacture cars that pollute less, which is a huge factor in the alarming global warming scenario.

Besides the onus on the automobile industry, there is also the contribution of responsible citizenry to sustain public finances and ensure co-operation in fuel efficiency. Many countries are using public-private partnerships for road maintenance; toll taxes are one way of enabling newer motorways for the future.

The fuel of the future

Hydrogen has gained much traction as a mainstream automobile fuel although there still continues to be mixed reactions from all over. The UK for instance in investing close to £400 million over a decade in support of ongoing research into this and hopes to have the ‘ultimate low-cost emission vehicle. The UKH2Mobility, a consortium of government and industry that strongly backs this move estimates that by 2030 UK roads may see close to a million hydrogen powered vehicles and a network of hydrogen refueling stations all over. Already leading automobile giants like Daimler, Hyundai, Nissan and Toyota have welcomed the move and their R&D are in top gear.

As with any new initiative, the ‘hydrogen car’ is also plagued by doubts and skepticism from general public as well as some sections of the industry who insist that such a move has its own share of pitfalls, the main one being the cost factor. Besides the price aspect, not much has been done in the name of analysis and research on storing hydrogen which leaves huge gaps in the safety aspect. However, the pro-hydrogen lobby are quick to point out the many advantages including the unexplained failure of ‘electric cars’ which has given them a huge impetus.