The first filling station in the Kanto area for fuel cell cars that run on compressed hydrogen gas opened in Tokyo's Nerima Ward on Thursday.
The station, operated by Tokyo Gas, can handle six vehicles per hour or 50 per day, officials said.
Toyota began selling fuel cell cars in Japan on Dec 15 and is planning to sell them in the U.S. and Europe in mid-2015. In Japan, the sporty-looking, four-door Toyota Mirai sells for 6.7 million yen. Toyota said it hopes to sell 400 in Japan and 300 in the rest of the world in the first year.
Fuel cell vehicles run on compressed hydrogen gas, which in the Mirai's case is stored in two tanks mounted underneath the vehicle. They emit no exhaust, though fossil fuels are used in the production of hydrogen and to pressurize it.
Besides the relatively high cost, buyers will have to contend with finding fuel. Only a few dozen hydrogen filling stations have been built worldwide, though governments are subsidizing the construction of more.
In Japan, about 30 stations will open in regions in and around Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya cities and the northern part of Kyushu island in the south.
Toyota said it already has about 200 pre-orders for the vehicle, mainly government agencies and companies that want to go green, the company said.
The Mirai can travel 650 to 700 kilometers on its two tanks of hydrogen. Hydrogen may be more expensive than gas initially, because there are so few customers but, over time, Toyota expects it will be cheaper to run a car on hydrogen than with gas.© Japan Today/AP