IMAGE: FUEL CELL CAR
Robert Gilhooly  /  EPA
Toyota's latest fuel-cell vehicle is driven past a sculpture of a rickshaw on its way to the automaker's main showroom in Tokyo, Japan, on Friday.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 9/28/2007 10:54:20 AM ET 2007-09-28T14:54:20

Toyota Motor Corp. unveiled an upgraded fuel-cell vehicle that successfully completed a 350-mile test run Friday, proving its ability to run a longer distance than its earlier model.

"The entire trip was completed with the air conditioner on and with no need to stop for refueling," Toyota said.

The latest model could have gone 480 miles with a single fueling, more than double the mileage achieved by Toyota's earlier model, the company said in a statement.

Toyota has been in a race with global auto makers, including General Motors Corp., to develop non-gasoline vehicles. A major challenge in developing fuel-cell vehicles is their limited driving distance, the cost of fuel cells, the lack of a hydrogen infrastructure and the cost of extracting hydrogen.

The advanced vehicle is 25 percent more fuel efficient than the earlier model, Toyota said, and can store twice as much hydrogen as before.

In a public road test Friday, two advanced fuel-cell vehicles were driven about 350 miles from Osaka to Tokyo without refueling. About 30 percent of the fuel was unused when they arrived in Tokyo.

Fuel-cell cars are widely viewed as the most promising pollution-free vehicles for the future because they are powered by electricity generated through the chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen and emit only water as a byproduct.

Toyota said the company plans to continue its research and development to further improve driving distance, usability at low temperature, durability and cost reduction.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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