The pilot region for the Government's road pricing plans - which the West Midlands is reportedly a front runner to host - will not utilise the satellite technology being examined for the eventual national scheme.
Transport Secretary Alistair Darling believes it is unrealistic to expect all drivers to have global positioning systems fitted within the Government's timescale.
Instead, "tag and beacon" microwave technology will have to be employed and could be set up on West Midlands roads within five years.
The seven district authorities in the conurbation have bid for Government cash to conduct a feasibility study on road pricing with a view to becoming the pilot area.
This would unlock millions of pounds of new transport funding on offer from the Department for Transport for the pilot region.
Part of the West Midlands study would look at using satellite-based "black box" technology in vehicles but it will also look at other technologies and the possible use of more than one system.
Mr Darling, in a speech to the Institute for Public Policy Research in London, said he wanted a pilot scheme set up before 2010. "Inevitably on this timetable we would need to rest on established technology, such as the microwave systems that are used in the US or Singapore and here at the Dartford Crossing.
"That is because we cannot rely on all vehicles having more modern technology in, say, five years - it will take a bit longer than that."
The West Midlands is among 24 authorities to have expressed an interest in the scheme with the Transport Innovation Fund, which will rise to billions during the next decade, as a sweetener. The region is understood to be the Government's preferred pilot area and it is known that one of Mr Darling's two special advisors was present when the West Midlands Joint Committee voted in favour of submitting the initial TIF bid last month.
The Transport Secretary said: "It is good to see so many expressions of interest from local authorities and Passenger Transport Executives in the Transport Innovation Fund.
"The leaders of some of our cities and larger conurbations can see that they must begin to consider demand management, including road pricing if they are to be able to support continued economic growth."
A spokesman for the West Midland authorities said it was too early to speculate on the best options for tackling congestion.
"We hope the Government will approve our bid for early money from their Transport Innovation Fund.
"That way we can get on with our proposed feasibility study to fully investigate current and future levels of congestion in the conurbation, and examine a comprehensive range of options for tackling the problem."
Mr Darling also suggested the eventual satellite-based system would "piggy-back" on to existing global positioning systems offered by pay-asyou-drive insurance companies and in-car route-finders.