Hiroshi Matsushita brims with pride about the staring and pointing that goes along with driving his dream car, Toyota's hydrogen-powered Mirai fuel cell sedan. There's just one problem: his new set of wheels came with a curfew.

The construction of hydrogen refueling stations is behind schedule around the world, hampering efforts by automakers to convince consumers to trade their gasoline-burning cars for autos that emit water vapor.

That is true even in Japan, where Toyota Motor Corp. and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe aspire to form a "hydrogen society."