updated 12/29/2006 12:52:03 PM ET 2006-12-29T17:52:03

Honda Motor Co. expects to sell fuel-cell vehicles in the general market by 2018, a news report said Friday.

Honda President Takeo Fukui disclosed the forecast in a recent interview, Kyodo News agency said.

In September, Japan's third-largest automaker unveiled its latest version of the FCX Concept fuel-cell car, which is planned for limited marketing in Japan and the U.S. in 2008. Honda declined to say what the vehicle will cost.

"In 2018, I believe the development (of a fuel-cell car) will have been very advanced," Fukui was quoted as saying by Kyodo in the interview in Tokyo on Dec. 25.

"It will become a real possibility to a large degree," he said, according to Kyodo.

Kyodo said Fukui was confident that many customers will want to buy a fuel-cell car if it costs no more than about 10 million yen ($84,000).

A fuel-cell car runs on power generated by oxygen in the air combining with hydrogen stored in a fuel tank. The end product is harmless water vapor.

Earlier this month, Japan's second-largest automaker, Nissan Motor Co., said it plans to launch a fuel-cell vehicle in Japan and North America in the early 2010s.

Fukui acknowledged that some technological challenges need to be resolved before fuel-cell cars becomes common, including improving the way in which hydrogen is stored and reducing the cost of producing hydrogen, Kyodo said.

Honda officials were not available for comment Friday. Many companies and government agencies were closed for the year-end holidays.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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