* Companies want to create domestic FCV market by 2015
* Ten gas, oil firms aim to build about 100 hydro stations
* Cars convert hydro into elec with water as by-product
TOKYO, Jan 13 (Reuters) - Top oil, gas and car companies in Japan have united to put in place the infrastructure needed to run hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, the companies said on Thursday, as they look to create a domestic market for the nascent technology before taking on rivals abroad.
With governments tightening environmental standards, competition has been heating up to develop alternative technologies to the combustion engine, with hybrid cars already widely on sale and electric vehicles starting to come to market.
Fuel-cell cars are not yet available to buy but a number of automakers, including Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T), Nissan Motor Co (7201.T) and Honda Motor Co (7267.T), are pushing to commercialise them by 2015. [ID:nTOE6AH01Y]
Fuel-cell cars, which typically have a greater range than electric vehicles, convert hydrogen into electricity, with heat and water the only by-products.
Toyota, Nissan and Honda, along with the other 10 companies working on the scheme, including JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corp (5020.T), Idemitsu Kosan Co (5019.T) and Tokyo Gas Co (9531.T), said in a joint statement that they would start negotiating with regional governments and parties interested in developing infrastructure in Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka and Fukuoka by 2015.
Oil and gas companies aim to build about 100 hydrogen stations in the four cities and surrounding areas by 2015, depending on the pace of sales of fuel cell vehicles, the statement said.
Japan’s transportation sector is the nation’s second biggest producer of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas, behind manufacturers.
In a move to introduce more low-carbon cars, the government said last year it would review regulations and revise them if necessary by March, 2013 to create a new market for fuel-cell cars by 2015.
Japan is set to levy a new tax on primary fossil fuel users in October and carry out other steps to meet the country’s ambitious pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels. [ID:nTOE6BR023] (Reporting by Risa Maeda; Editing by Joseph Radford)