April 18, 2017 / 2:09 PM / 3 months ago

Toyota to start China hydrogen fuel cell vehicle tests in October

The logo of Toyota is pictured at the 38th Bangkok International Motor Show in Bangkok, Thailand March 28, 2017.Athit Perawongmetha/Files

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Japan's Toyota Motor Corp will start testing hydrogen fuel-cell cars in China from October, part of an effort to determine the feasibility of selling its Mirai hydrogen electric passenger car in the market.

The head of the Japanese automaker's China business, Hiroji Onishi, said the carmaker also planned to build a hydrogen fuel station in the city of Changshu in eastern Jiangsu province in time for the start of the tests. 

Mirai, which means "future" in Japanese, is a four-person sedan first introduced in 2014 that has a range of 300 miles, and is Toyota's first mass-market fuel cell car.

Toyota wants to test the car's performance and the quality of locally available hydrogen in China, Onishi said. 

He was speaking at a media event ahead of the Shanghai auto show, which opens later this week. 

Toyota began selling the Mirai in Japan in late 2014. The cars is now available in the United States as well as some markets in Europe. Since January 2016 and through February this year, Toyota had sold roughly 3,000 Mirai fuel-cell cars globally, according to the company. 

Onishi reiterated that Toyota would start selling plug-in electric hybrid cars next year in China. He added the firm aimed to sell an all-electric battery car in the China market, but did not give a timeframe for the plan.

Reporting by Norihiko Shirouzu in SHANGHAI; Editing by Mark Potter

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