Toyota announced July 1 it will begin limited marketing of a fuel cell hybrid (FCHV) sport/utility vehicle in Japan and the U.S. around the end of this year. According to the company, this is much earlier than originally planned. Toyota claims that the earlier launch is due to the positive outcome of a year of testing in Japan and the U.S. of the FCHV-4 prototype. The SUV, based on the Kluger-V in Japan and the Highlander in the United States, will be an FCHV featuring conventional vehicle-like performance, according to Toyota. Toyota added that the fuel cell-powered SUVs, to be available by lease, will be offered only to select private sectors, technology-related companies, institutional organizations, and research facilities. Toyota also says it plans to lease a total of approximately 20 units during the first year to entities that have access to hydrogen-supply infrastructure and after-sales service. Toyota says it began testing the FCHV-4 on public roads in Japan in June 2001 and the United States in July 2001. So far, Toyota claims the FCHV-4s have covered a cumulative 110,000 kilometers (68,000 miles) on and off the test track.

Originally posted on Fleet Financials

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