The Sankei Shimbun newspaper said Nissan would start leasing its X-Trail FCV fuel cell cars in 2003, following the approval of the Ministry of Transport on Tuesday.

Nissan will start driving the cars, which have a top speed of about 80mph, experimentally on public roads in the near future and plans to lease the cars to the Japanese Government and the private sector in Japan.

Nissan and Renault started developing a fuel cell car in 2001 with a total investment of 85 billion yen ($US687.8 million and the two companies have been carrying out driving tests of the R-Terra FCV fuel cell car in California since April 2001, the report said.