A Toyota Mirai fuel-cell car on the final assembly line at the Motomachi plant in Aichi, central Japan.

Aichi, Japan - Toyota president Akio Toyoda has unveiled the assembly line that is making the first mass market fuel-cell car.

The world's biggest carmaker plans to produce 700 units of the four-door Mirai sedan - powered by hydrogen and emitting nothing but water vapour from its tailpipe - by the end of December.

Production of the car, whose name means “future” in Japanese is scheduled to expand to 2000 units in 2016 and 3000 units in 2017.

The Mirai, which is being made at Toyota's Motomachi Plant in Aichi, central Japan, can travel about 650km without refuelling, about three times further than an electric car, and its tank can be filled in a few minutes like petrol engined vehicles.

HISTORIC FIRST STEP

In January Toyoda delivered a Mirai to the Japanese prime minister's office.

“We are thrilled to think that before everyone else, we are taking a historic step toward the establishment of a hydrogen society in Japan,” he said at the time.

Fuel-cell technology is seen as the Holy Grail of green cars as they are powered by a chemical reaction of hydrogen and oxygen, and produce nothing more harmful than water.

Japanese automakers, including Honda and Nissan, have been leaders in the green car sector. The country's seven major manufacturers reportedly plan to spend a record $24 billion (R275 billion) to research the sector this year.

AFP