Japanese carmaker Toyota is planning to
launch a hydrogen fuel-cell version of its diesel-electric Prius
hybrid by 2014, a senior company executive has told Germany's
Wirtschaftswoche economic gazette.
The vehicle will be offered in Japan, the United States and European markets. Availability will ultimately depend on progress made in boosting the hydrogen refuelling infrastructure in particular countries, said the company's drivetrain head for Europe, Gerald Killmann.
Hydrogen fuel cells are currently used to power buses and some forklift trucks around the world but their use in cars has been limited owing to the high costs involved. German carmaker BMW abandoned its own long-running programme to perfect the drivetrain but has since signed a comprehensive technology tie-up which includes fuel-cell research.
The fuel cell typically utilizes a chemical reaction involving hydrogen to produce electricity and drive an electric motor. The process is entirely emission-free, with only water vapour released into the atmosphere.
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