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Nissan Motor Co. began leasing the X-Trail FCV fuel-cell vehicle on Monday, following rivals Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. to promote the commercial use of environmentally friendly cars.

The first leased X-Trail FCV was delivered to oil refiner Cosmo Oil Co., which said it will use data collected from the vehicle to help develop its own hydrogen-supplying technologies and equipment.

Nissan said the leasing fee is 1 million yen a month. It plans to lease several more X-Trail FCVs this year.

Based on the Nissan X-Trail sport utility vehicle, the X-Trail FCV is equipped with a compact lithium-ion battery and features high power density, outstanding cooling performance and a compact design.

The latest model runs at a speed of up to 145 kph and has a high-efficiency fuel-cell stack developed with UTC Fuel Cells of the United States, Nissan said.

It is also equipped with an air conditioning system that uses carbon dioxide as the refrigerant, which was developed in a project between Nissan and Calsonic Kansei Corp., a Tokyo-based auto equipment manufacturer.

Auto industry officials said the latest step by Nissan will fuel competition among Japan’s top three automakers in the development and sale of pollution-free fuel-cell vehicles, which are powered by electricity generated through the chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen and emit only water.

In late 2002, Toyota and Honda unveiled their first commercially produced fuel-cell vehicles and began leasing them to government agencies and business corporations.

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