Toyota’s first fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) model will include the latest weight reduction and carbon dioxide air conditioning technology when introduced in 2003. And as much of the new technology as possible will also be shared with conventional petrol models.

The fuel cell vehicle will have secondary batteries and be built on the same front wheel drive platform as the Toyota Windom (Lexus ES300) and Kluger models sold in Japan. It will sell for less than 10 million yen (about $US81,000).

The FCEV will also feature hydrogen fuel tank efficiency improved enough for a petrol-comparable driving range of 300 miles (500km), twice as much as current prototypes.

Toyota has also promised to unveil an air conditioning system jointly developed with its Denso subsidiary that uses carbon dioxide and is 25 per cent more efficient than those currently using CFC replacements such as HFC134A.

Japanese sources say that the 2003 FCEV will be a flagship model attracting a lot of attention, hence the emphasis on its environment-friendliness.