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Nissan, Renault to develop cars run on gasoline

NISSAN Motor and Renault SA of France have decided to develop...

NISSAN Motor and Renault SA of France have decided to develop environmentally friendly cars with a fuel-cell that runs on gasoline, following the lead of the world's largest automakers, a Japanese newspaper has said on Monday.

Fuel-cell cars run on electricity produced by taking hydrogen from a hydrogen-containing liquid, such as methanol or gasoline, and combining it with oxygen from air. They emit only water and heat as exhaust and have become the focal point of research in an industry seeking cleaner alternatives to the internal-combustion engine.

Nissan, which is owned 36.8 per cent by Renault, has opted for the gasoline-powered fuel-cell because of the likelihood that it will become the American standard, the national Yomiuri newspaper reported in a front page story.

Ritsuko Harimoto, a Nissan spokeswoman, could not immediately say whether the report was true.

In January, General Motors of the United States and Japan's Toyota Motor said they would join Exxon Mobil, a major US oil company, in an alliance to develop gasoline as the source of energy for fuel-cell cars.

The announcement by the world's largest and third-largest automakers led Nissan and Renault to come up with a similar model, the Yomiuri said, quoting unidentified company sources.

Nissan and Renault would spend 85 billion yen ($714 million) on the project and would market the fuel-cell vehicles as early as 2005, the newspaper said.

Regulators around the world are pressuring automakers to make cars that generate no pollution particles or gasses. By 2003, California would require zero-emissions cars to make up 4 per cent of annual sales in the state.