October 14, 2015 / 4:59 AM / 4 years ago

Toyota targets fuel-cell car sales of 30,000 a year by 2020

TOKYO (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) set what it called an ambitious target to sell 30,000 fuel-cell vehicles a year by the end of the decade under a plan to cut carbon emissions nearly to zero by 2050.

A logo of Toyota Motor Corp is pictured on a car and the background at the company's showroom in Tokyo, Japan, June 16, 2015. Toyota Motor Corp shareholders approved a controversial new class of stock on Tuesday that will bring in more long-term investors, but which faced opposition from foreign funds as they are readily available only in Japan. REUTERS/Yuya Shino

Toyota, which is betting heavily on fuel-cell technology as carmakers rush to develop environmentally friendly vehicles, said on Wednesday it had so far sold 350 of its Mirai fuel-cell car, launched in December. It retained a target of boosting production to about 2,000 next year and 3,000 in 2017.

Potentially the ultimate “green car”, fuel-cell vehicles run on electricity generated by mixing hydrogen fuel and oxygen in the air, without the carbon emissions produced by gasoline-engine vehicles.

“When we first announced the Mirai, we said we were at the start of the age of hydrogen,” senior managing officer Kiyotaka Ise told reporters.

“The figure we’ve announced today is ambitious, but it needs to be to keep the ball rolling.”

Hyundai Motor Co (005380.KS) is also producing fuel-cell vehicles for the consumer market and Honda Motor Corp (7267.T) is widely expected to unveil its own offering later this month.

The Mirai target compares with the 1.5 million hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles Toyota aims to be selling annually by 2020, up from 1.26 million in 2014.

Toyota said that cars running on conventional engines will have virtually disappeared by 2050.

Sales of the Mirai are limited to Japan but Toyota has been taking orders in the United States since August.

A global rollout has been delayed due to a dearth of hydrogen fuel stations outside Japan. Supply of the hand-assembled vehicles is also still very tight, with roughly three a day produced at a single plant in Toyota City, the company’s sprawling headquarters in central Japan.

Toyota added that it aimed to eliminate carbon emissions from its production facilities by 2050 by using renewable and hydrogen-based energy.

Editing by Chang-Ran Kim and Edmund Klamann

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