The hydrogen ball rolled a little further in California last week.

The Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development--GO-Biz for short--has now announced plans to streamline the permitting process for hydrogen and electric fueling stations.

It's the latest move to prepare the state for future hydrogen vehicles that several manufacturers have said they will launch over the next few years.

The new initiative aims to cement California's position as a world-leader in zero-emission technology, according to state economic development director Kish Rajan.

GO-Biz, he says, will partner with several automotive companies to ensure its infrastructure is suited to supplying the influx of electric and hydrogen vehicles to the market.

Among those, and likely to appear soonest, is Toyota's hydrogen fuel cell vehicle--previewed recently in prototype form and due to be unveiled as a concept at the upcoming Tokyo Auto Show.

As part of its partnership with BMW, both manufacturers will release a hydrogen vehicle over the next few years. Toyota's should arrive as soon as 2015, while BMW's may follow a few years later, in 2017.

Other manufacturers exploring fuel cell technology include Hyundai; technology partners General Motors and Honda; and a three-pronged assault from Daimler, Ford, and the Renault-Nissan Alliance.

All of these have also been involved with regular battery electric vehicles to some degree, and the new initiative will also help in this regard.

GO-Biz says it will work with local, state and federal government agencies, hydrogen station developers, station hosts, electric vehicle regional planners, installers, and hosts to build up a holistic plan for the future of electric and hydrogen infrastructure.

The news follows on from California Governor Brown's signing of six bills on National Plug-In Day to help promote electric cars.

Among the bills were plans for a "cash for clunkers"-style program to scrap the dirtiest vehicles, funding for hydrogen stations and an extended HOV lane sticker program.


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