A group of major manufacturers, including Toyota, Nissan, DaimlerChrysler and Ford, will pool resources to increase the fuel storage capacity of hydrogen-powered cars.

A group of major manufacturers, including Toyota, Nissan, DaimlerChrysler and Ford, will pool resources to increase the fuel storage capacity of hydrogen-powered cars.

The joint venture by the manufacturers is seen as a concerted effort to improve the estimated tank ranges of fuel cell vehicles to levels that would compare favourably to those of petrol-engined cars, financial daily Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Nikkei) reported.

The group of around 20 car makers and component manufacturers will aim to extend the distance fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) can run before refuelling to around 500 km, the paper said.

Toyota and Honda launched the world's first production FCVs simultaneously last month, but they can cover only around 300 km before refuelling.

By the end of 2005 the group aims to develop fuel tanks which can hold 40 per cent more high-pressure hydrogen than current fuel cells, added.

Developing such technology single-handedly would be costly for one firm and if the component manufacturers standardise specifications, it would obviate the need to supply each of the manufacturers with different tanks and allow for mass production, the report said.

CARtoday.com reported in October last year that DaimlerChrysler would follow in the footsteps of the aforementioned Honda FCX and introduce its Mercedes-Benz F-Cell hydrogen cars on the US market this year.

The vehicles, based on the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, will be called "F-Cell." About 60 will be available for government fleets in the United States (and some European countries), to see how the vehicles operate under everyday conditions.

Honda plans to lease about 30 units of its FCX, the world’s first fuel cell vehicle to be certified by the California Air Resources Board as a zero emission vehicle, under similar small fleet agreements in California and Tokyo during the next two-to-three years.

Similarly, General Motors is stepping up its fuel cell programme and is building a R150-million development centre. Nissan plans to sell its first fuel cell car this year, speeding up its original plans for a launch in 2005.

Original article from Car