General Motors reportedly has thrown its weight behind a public-private European Union project that seeks to promote hydrogen as a way of powering vehicles free of dirty emissions.

“This is a great opportunity not only to make clear the automotive industry’s commitment to sustainable mobility but also to start building up hydrogen infrastructure,” GM Europe president Carl-Peter Forster wrote to European Commission President Romano Prodi, according to a GM statement cited by Reuters.

The 10-year pilot projects could start next year in some European cities, setting up hydrogen filling stations and fuel-cell plants designed to produce heat and power, the report said.

The EU also plans to finance constructing a fleet of a few hundred hydrogen-powered vehicles by 2010, GM reportedly said.

Analysts told Reuters some hydrogen-powered cars and buses are already on the road, but they will not have broad commercial appeal until their costs come way down and infrastructure is in place for drivers to fill up when the fuel runs out.

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The EU has pledged up to €300 million for hydrogen research over the next few years, way behind Japan and the United States, Reuters added.