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Business

Toyota primed to pump up production of fuel cell vehicle

Orders for the Mirai have outpaced output capacity.

NAGOYA -- Toyota Motor will more than quadruple annual output capacity for its Mirai fuel cell vehicle to 3,000 units by 2017, prompted by strong demand in Japan and plans to roll it out abroad.

     The Japanese automaker makes core components such as fuel cell stacks and hydrogen tanks at its headquarters plant in Toyota, Aichi Prefecture, and assembles the vehicle at a nearby factory. It announced the Mirai's specifications in mid-November and initially set production capacity at 700 units a year.

     In response to brisk pre-orders, the company decided ahead of the Dec. 15 release of the vehicle to raise the annual capacity to 2,100 units at the end of this year by investing about 20 billion yen ($168 million). Now, it will raise the volume further, to 3,000 in 2017 by spending several dozen billion yen on the two facilities.

     Demand for the Mirai has been strong from municipalities, businesses and affluent consumers, and orders in Japan have topped 1,400 units. A staffer at a dealership in Aichi has been telling customers that it will take three years to deliver the car with the current production capacity.

     Toyota's latest decision comes as the automaker gears up to release the Mirai in the U.S. and Europe in the summer. The company plans to sell at least 3,000 units of the Mirai in the U.S. by the end of 2017, in light of zero-emission vehicle regulations in the state of California.

     With Toyota offering patented technology on fuel cell vehicles for free through 2020, and Honda Motor also moving to roll out its own version that it developed itself in fiscal 2015, capital spending on production and related businesses will likely climb dramatically.

(Nikkei)

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