Toyota Motor said it had teamed up with five Chinese companies to promote the use of hydrogen fuel cell powertrains in China’s commercial vehicle sector.

A new joint venture, called United Fuel Cell System R&D (Beijing) Company, has been established with the aim of adapting and developing technology for hydrogen fuel cell commercial vehicles and related refueling infrastructure in China. 

The company, with paid up capital of JPY5bn (US$46m), is owned 65% by Toyota Motor, 15% by SinoHytec and 5% by each of FAW Group, Beijing Automotive Group, GAC Motor and Dongfeng Motor. 

Toyota China CEO Tatsuro Ueda said in a statement “this is the first hydrogen fuel cell R&D company to be established overseas by Toyota and it has an important strategic significance”. 

The new partnership highlights Toyota’s global ambitions for fuel cell vehicles.

The automaker strongly believes hydrogen fuel cells will become a key energy source for zero emission vehicles in the future.

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United Fuel Cell System R&D will focus initially on developing refueling infrastructure in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei, Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta regions.

Last year, Toyota and its local joint ventures GAC and FAW Group agreed to develop fuel cells powertrains in partnership with Foton Motor Group.