TOKYO -- In a setback to advancing fuel-cell vehicle (FCV) technology, Toyota Motor Corp. said on Tuesday it would recall all six of its hydrogen-powered vehicles after it found a leak in the fuel tank of one of the cars.
The car maker had begun leasing the million-dollar-plus cars to four Japanese government ministries and two California university campuses last December, becoming the world's first automaker, along with rival Honda Motor Co., to market the environmentally friendly vehicles.
Toyota, the world's third-biggest automaker, said the leak occurred in the vehicle leased to Japan's Environment Ministry while the high-pressure hydrogen tank was being refilled last Thursday.
The tank was manufactured by a foreign parts maker, Toyota said, declining to identify the company.
The recall underscores the difficulty in building marketable and fault-free FCVs, especially as it comes from a company reputed to be at the forefront of the technology.
Only a handful of automakers worldwide have managed to build hydrogen-powered FCVs, and most are still at the testing stage.
A spokeswoman at Honda, which began leasing its FCVs in Japan and the United States on the same day as Toyota, said no problems have been reported so far with its vehicles.
Toyota said it would recall the six fuel cell cars, as well as postpone the lease of six more to two local governments and four private companies, including Tokyo Gas Co., scheduled for May 29.
It said it would return the vehicles after investigating and fixing the problem, without specifying a timeframe.
"There is no precedent for this type of problem, so we expect the investigation to take some time," a Toyota spokeswoman said.
Toyota had said it wanted to lease a total of about 20 FCVs in Japan and the United States by the end of the year.