The Toyota FCV's front end as it looked like in January. IBTimes / Angelo Young

A European Union initiative, the London Mayor’s Office and others launched a $51.6 million project on Thursday to develop hydrogen fuel cell-powered electric cars and hydrogen refueling stations across five member EU states.

Leading motor manufacturers, hydrogen fuel suppliers and energy consultancies around the world signed on with the mayor’s office to the HyFive project, the largest of its kind in Europe.

BMW, Daimler, Honda, Hyundai and Toyota agreed to deploy a total of 110 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles to Bolzano, Italy; Copenhagen, Denmark; Innsbruck, Austria; Munich, Germany; Stuttgart, Germany and London, England. Participating hydrogen fuel companies include Air Products, Copenhagen Hydrogen Network, ITM Power, Linde and OMV, and participating consultancies include Element Energy, PE International, the Institute for Innovative Technology and the EU's Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking, which is funding the project.

Locations for three new hydrogen refueling stations (in London, Aarhus and Odense in Denmark and Innsbruck) are planned to open for use by 2015, giving manufacturers time to put hydrogen fuelled cars in some European markets, the London mayor’s office said. Under the same project, the U.K.’s ITM Power will supply three electrolyser-based refueling stations to London. The units produce hydrogen via electrolysis from renewable power purchased from the power grid.

Using hydrogen gas as a fuel to generate electric power does not produce tailpipe emissions, only water vapor. The hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicles have the potential to be more than twice as fuel-efficient as traditional vehicles, can cover over 400 miles before needing to be refueled and operate very quietly, the London mayor’s office said.

"To sell this technology we need to show Londoners and the wider world that it is not science fiction," Mayor of London Boris Johnson said in a statement Thursday. "By building the vehicles and the filling stations and allowing people to kick the tyres we will be able to demonstrate that hydrogen is a viable option and that London is at the forefront of efforts to make it so."