LOS ANGELES -- Nissan Motor Co. is on track to deliver limited numbers of fuel cell SUVs in the United States within two years.
The company will offer leases on the fuel cell-powered X-Trail, an entry-level SUV that is now sold in Japan, said Alan Jones, an engineer in the emission testing and regulatory affairs division at Nissan Technical Center North America here.
"It looks like '07 will be the year," he said.
Jones spoke with Automotive News after a ceremony here on April 22 at the Petersen Automotive Museum, to which Nissan donated a fuel cell Xterra SUV.
Fuel cells convert hydrogen fuel into electricity and emit only water as exhaust.
Nissan entered the fuel cell market when it began leasing a small number of X-Trails to businesses in Japan in March 2004.
Jones said the U.S. fuel cell vehicles will be leased only to businesses.
He said that he did not know how many will available.
Jones said the biggest obstacles to fuel cell technology are high costs, the limited life of the hydrogen-conversion equipment and the limited range before refueling.
Also, Nissan's fuel cell vehicles, like those of most automakers, cannot start below the freezing temperature of water.
Jones said that Nissan would like to make the hydrogen-conversion equipment last at least 100,000 miles.
But he said he believes the equipment eventually will be made to last up to 200,000 miles.
Nissan is working with United Technologies Corp. of Hartford, Conn., to improve the equipment.
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