Work on fuel-cell cars is progressing, but their commercialisation by around 2010 will be 'difficult' according to Toyota.
"When we first started the research and development of fuel-cell cars, some people predicted that they may be commercialised by around 2010. But that's difficult," Toyota Motor Corp. president Katsuaki Watanabe said, according to AFP.

"The technological advances are significant. The only problem is the cost," he told reporters.

Toyota last year reported success in a test of a fuel-cell car. The FCHV vehicle was driven about 560 kilometres (350 miles) on a single filling and finished with 30% of the hydrogen still in the tank.

But besides the hefty price of the FCHV, Watanabe noted that motorists would need an infrastructure of hydrogen filling stations if they are to take fuel-cell cars on the road.

"It will probably be a long way ahead until we can start mass production, considering problems linked to difficulties in how to stock hydrogen and where to draw hydrogen from," he said.

"It'll take long time to solve these problems, but we will definitely commercialise it as I believe it is a promising power source," he said.

Watanabe also reportedly said he hoped to go further and "make a car that can actually clean the air, so that the longer it runs the cleaner the air becomes."

He also said work was progressing with Panasonic maker Matsushita on loading cars with lithium-ion batteries of the type used in computers.

That would open the way for so-called "plug-in hybrids" that can be recharged from standard electrical outlets.

"By 2010 we hope the achievement will see customers," Watanabe said.