Toyota President Akio Toyoda on Tuesday unveiled the assembly line that is making the first mass market fuel-cell car.
The world’s biggest carmaker plans to produce 700 units of the four-door Mirai sedan — powered by hydrogen and emitting nothing but water vapour from its tailpipe — by the end of December.
Production of the car whose name means “future” in Japanese is scheduled to expand to 2,000 units in 2016 and 3,000 units in 2017.
The Mirai, which is being made at the firm’s Motomachi Plant in Aichi, central Japan, can travel about 650 kilometres (400 miles) without refuelling, some three times further than an electric car, and its tank can be filled in a few minutes like gasoline engine vehicles.
“We are thrilled to think that before everyone else, we are taking a historic step toward the establishment of a hydrogen society in Japan,” Toyoda told reporters last month when he delivered a Mirai to the prime minister’s office.
Fuel-cell technology is seen as the Holy Grail of green cars as they are powered by a chemical reaction of hydrogen and oxygen, and produce nothing more harmful than water.
Japanese automakers, including Toyota’s rivals Honda and Nissan, have been leaders in the green car sector. The country’s seven major manufacturers reportedly plan to spend a record $24 billion to research the sector this year.