Japanese car maker Mazda had begun testing a hydrogen/petrol hybrid vehicle on public roads.
The Premacy Hydrogen RE Hybrid minivan has a range of 200km on hydrogen fuel, which increases to 550km when running on petrol. The 4.5 metre-long vehicle can hold five passengers.
"We will continue to advance our development programme and strive to start commercial leasing during this fiscal year," said Akihiro Kashiwagi, Mazda's programme manager in charge of hydrogen RE development.
The vehicle is powered by a hydrogen rotary engine, which can run on hydrogen and petrol, and an electric motor. The driver can switch between the two fuel sources by pushing a button.
Hydrogen is stored in a high-pressure tank, while a generator is used to charge lithium-ion batteries which power the electric motor.
From information released by Mazda, it is not clear whether the rotary engine can drive the Premacy's wheels directly.
The hydrogen rotary engine has take Mazda 18 years to develop and was first road tested in 1995. The range of the latest engine design has been doubled, and power increased by 40 per cent, compared to earlier versions, Mazda claims.
"We are committed to improving the performance of our hydrogen rotary engine vehicles to help promote a more eco-friendly place for the automobile in society," said Kashiwagi.
Mazda's announcement comes two days after rival car maker Honda claimed a world first in announcing limited mass production of a hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicle.
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