You may have read earlier this week about London’s plans to launch hydrogen fuel cell powered black cabs in the capital by 2012.

On the face of it, the project sounds brilliant: cleaner air, lower running costs and no compromise on interior space or exterior design.

But the project faces two major hurdles: creating the infrastructure and convincing the cabbies to go for it. As London’s deputy mayor Kit Malthouse described it, both hydrogen and electric cars are at a ‘which comes first, the chicken or the egg’ stage.

The first problem is beginning to be tackled. Two hydrogen-recharging points will be installed by City Hall this year with a further four to follow in 2011.

These are to support the five hydrogen buses that will run on London’s streets from later this year, but taxi drivers will also gain access to them should they opt in for the hydrogen taxi trials.

But winning the taxi drivers over will be far more difficult.

“We need to get a fleet of owner drivers involved,” said Maganese Bronze’s John Russell, the firm that makes black cabs.