Firms to test run fuel-cell cars

Mazda to team up with Mitsubishi, DaimlerChrysler units

Mazda Motor Corp., Nippon Mitsubishi Oil Corp. and a Japanese unit of DaimlerChrysler AG announced Monday they will jointly develop a motor vehicle powered by environmentally friendly fuel cells, using government subsidies.

DaimlerChrysler Japan Holding Ltd. and Mazda will each provide a car for test runs at Nippon Mitsubishi’s refinery in Yokohama to collect data for the development of a fuel cell-powered vehicle.

Nippon Mitsubishi will provide the fuel for the experiment.

Fuel cells are environmentally friendly power generators, creating electricity for powering vehicles from the chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen.

The experiment, which will cost over 1 billion yen, is to be completed within fiscal 2000, which ends in March 2001.

It is expected to receive 200 million yen to 300 million yen in subsidies from the Ministry of International Trade and Industry.

Mazda’s main stockholder, Ford Motor Co. of the United States, and German-U.S. company DaimlerChrysler are cooperating in the development of fuel-cell cars.

Ford and DaimlerChrysler have jointly invested in Ballard Power Systems, a Canadian venture company engaged in the development of fuel-cell power systems, and are seeking to set global standards as well as bring down development costs.

British production up

LONDON (Kyodo) Honda Motor Co. said Monday it will begin production of its popular CR-V four-wheel-drive car at its British plant in June to meet growing demand in Europe.

The Japanese automaker said it expects the plant in Swindon, western England, will produce 20,000 CR-V cars by the end of March 2001.

European marketing for the model was launched three years ago.

Honda also said the Swindon plant, which assembles its Accord and Civic cars and has an annual capacity of 150,000 units, is undergoing a 130 million pound modernization program that will enable it to produce various models on short notice.

The announcement followed an April 1 report by the Financial Times that said the Japanese automaker is planning to cut its British production by more than 50 percent to offset the strength of the British pound.