Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., will start limited marketing of a fuel cell hybrid (FCHV) sport utility vehicle (SUV) in Japan and the U.S. around the end of this year, much earlier than originally planned. The earlier launch reflects the successful results of a year of testing in the two countries of the FCHV-4 prototype, and Toyota’s response to society’s expectations for cleaner mobility solutions.TORRANCE, California – July 3, 2002 [SolarAccess.com] The SUV, based on the Kluger-V in Japan and the Highlander in the United States, will be a newly developed FCHV featuring conventional vehicle-like performance based on improvements to the FCHV-4’s reliability, cruising distance, functionality and other aspects. Lowering costs, cold temperature performance and other issues remain. Therefore, the fuel cell-powered SUVs, to be available by lease, will be offered only to select private sectors, technology related companies, institutional organizations and research facilities. Although terms have yet to be determined, Toyota plans to lease a total of approximately 20 units during the first year to entities that have access to hydrogen-supply infrastructure and after-sales service. Toyota began testing the FCHV-4 on public roads in Japan in June 2001 and the United States a month later. So far, FCHV-4s have covered a cumulative 110,000 kilometers (approx. 68,000 miles) on and off the test track, providing valuable insight toward the commercialization of FCHVs. Expected to heighten consumer acceptance of hydrogen as a fuel, Toyota marketing of an FCHV is integral to the establishment of the standards and infrastructures necessary for the popularization and full-scale commercialization of fuel cell-powered vehicles. Toyota launched the Prius, the world’s first mass-produced gas-electric hybrid, in 1997 in Japan, and in 2001 in the U.S market. Prius is the world’s best-selling hybrid vehicle, with total vehicle sales nearing 100,000 units.