YOKOHAMA, Japan (AP) - Mazda Motor Corp. has developed a new type of hybrid car that runs by switching between an electric motor and a hydrogen-powered engine, and then automatically shifts to gasoline when it runs out of hydrogen.
The experimental "concept car" Premacy Hydrogen RE Hybrid currently can travel only about 100 kilometers (62 miles) on hydrogen. That can be a problem because hydrogen fueling stations are still rare.
It was shown to reporters on Tuesday at a research center in Yokohama, west of Tokyo, ahead of the Tokyo auto show opening this month. There are no current plans for commercial sales.
Hybrids, which use an electric motor and an engine, are more ecological and efficient than standard gasoline engines. The electric motor is used during slow speeds, and the engine kicks in when the car accelerates. The battery is recharged when the car brakes or goes down hill.
Hydrogen-powered vehicles are among various "green" technologies being developed by automakers.
The hybrids common on roads today, such as the Prius from Toyota Motor Corp., have a motor and gasoline engine, and don't run on hydrogen.
Hiroshima-based Mazda uses a rotary engine, a kind of engine that doesn't have pistons, for its hydrogen-powered car. It plans to start leasing an RX-8 sports car with a hydrogen-powered rotary engine next year.
The price of the vehicle is still undecided but will be less than a million yen (US$8,760; $7,350) a month, Mazda said. The vehicle, which is not a hybrid, runs on gasoline when the hydrogen is used up.