Toyota to start China hydrogen fuel cell vehicle tests in October

Toyota concept vehicles are displayed at the Shanghai Auto Show, during its media day, in Shanghai, China April 19, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song

(This version of the story corrects sixth paragraph to say that Toyota sold roughly 3,000 Mirai cars between Dec 2014 and Feb 2017, not January 2016 and February 2017, in line with company correction)

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Japan's Toyota Motor Corp 7203.T 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 December 2014 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 and Stephen Coates