WASHINGTON -- A "substantial research effort" is needed to ensure that hydrogen-powered vehicles are safe before large numbers of motorists begin to drive them, federal regulators say.
The regulators are concerned about hydrogen's flammability. Unique properties of the gas, they say, also make it hard to handle.
Regulators want to know more about the crashworthiness of vehicles loaded with hydrogen fuel. Elaborate systems such as high-pressure tanks and high-voltage components likely will be needed to tap its power. Special rules may be necessary, the regulators say.
"Very little data are available concerning the safe performance of these vehicles," says a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration research plan that was made public this month. The agency is accepting public comment on the proposed plan until Oct. 12.