Toyota Motor Corp. has developed a new zero-emission fuel-cell vehicle that has a longer cruising distance than previous models and can operate in freezing temperatures.
Japanese companies have been working to create a viable zero-emission car running on fuel cells, which produce electricity through a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen, leaving water as the only by-product. Toyota's system "was enhanced to further improve cruising distance and low-temperature starts, which had presented obstacles to widespread fuel-cell vehicle use," the company says in a statement.
Toyota engineers managed to control the amount of water produced inside the fuel-cell system, which previously interfered with electrical generation at low temperatures. Fuel efficiency was also improved, the automaker says.
Toyota says it will continue to strive to improve the durability and reduce the cost of fuel-cell vehicles to bring about their widespread use.
Toyota president Katsuaki Watanabe has said previously that it will take years to make eco-friendly cars running on fuel cells commercially viable. Besides the hefty price, motorists would also need an infrastructure of hydrogen filling stations if they are to take the cars on the road.
The International Energy Agency has estimated that nearly a billion electric or fuel-cell vehicles may need to be put on the road as part of an "energy technology revolution" to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Copyright 2008 Agence France-Presse