BRUSSELS( Reuters) -- The European Union's executive took a further step to encourage the widespread use of electric vehicles, proposing the EU sign up to an existing set of common safety standards.
The EU's 27 governments should protect their 500 million citizens by adopting rules for electric vehicles from the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, the European Commission said.
The rules demand that drivers be protected from electric shocks and from the build-up of hazardous gases. They also lay down minimum insulation levels and standard safety labels.
The EU took its first serious step towards making electric cars a reality in April, when Industry Commissioner Antonio Tajani unveiled a 40-point action plan for promoting green vehicles.
Standard rules for safety and charging infrastructure are keenly awaited.
Renault has joined forces with California's Better Place in a project to put electric cars and their charging infrastructure on the roads of Denmark and Israel by 2011.
But critics question whether common standards will be ready in time, or whether investors risk laying down infrastructure that will later have to be torn up and replaced.
The electrical safety standards should be followed by charging standards in 2011, and crash risks should be reviewed by 2012, including risks due to the quietness of the vehicles.