Car Cos. Likely to Make Fuel-cell Cars

A group of top automakers aims to develop technology to allow fuel cell cars to cover similar distances as gasoline engine cars, a Japanese newspaper reported on Monday.

Published: 13-Jan-2003

Monday, January 13, 2003 Posted: 2:43 PM HKT (0643 GMT)

Toyota and Honda, Japan's top two carmakers, launched the world's first fuel-cell cars last month

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TOKYO, Japan (Reuters) -- The unprecedented effort on fuel cells brings together companies including Toyota Motor, Nissan Motor, DaimlerChrysler AG and Ford Motor, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun said.

The group of around 20 auto makers and car parts manufacturers will aim to extend the distance fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) can run before refueling to around 500 km (311 miles) by increasing the fuel storage capacity of the cars, the paper said.

Toyota and Honda Motor launched the world's first FCVs simultaneously last month, but they can cover only around 300 km (186 miles) before refueling, one of the drawbacks of the environmentally friendly cars.

Cars due by end of 2005

The group of car and car parts makers will aim to develop by the end of 2005 fuel tanks which can hold 40 percent more high-pressure hydrogen than current fuel cells, Nikkei added.

Developing such tanks single-handedly would be costly for one firm, and if the autoparts manufacturers can standardize specifications, it will save them the need to supply each of the car makers with different tanks and allow for mass production, the paper said.

FCVs runs on electricity produced by mixing hydrogen fuel and oxygen, and their only by-products are heat and water.

The Nikkei said some of the autoparts makers taking part included Kokan Drum Co, subsidiary of NKK Corp and Canadian firm Powertech.

Japan's stock markets are closed on Monday for the Coming of Age Day holiday.

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