Iwatani International has signed a contract for the lease of \\$quot;˜RX-8 hydrogen RE\\$quot;, a rotary hydrogen engine developed by Mazda Motor.

The car, which is due to be delivered in this month, is a commercial version of the hydrogen vehicle with an internal combustion engine.

The company said: \\$quot;The vehicle uses an internal combustion engine and not a fuel cell. Mazda is the only company in Japan to make this type of hydrogen vehicle on a commercial basis.

\\$quot;This vehicle employs a system which can run on either hydrogen or gasoline. The car\\$quot;s running distance is 100 km when using hydrogen compared to the running distance of 549 km when gasoline is used. There is an arrangement whereby running on hydrogen or gasoline can be selected by flipping a switch located by the driver's seat.\\$quot;

Hydrogen is stored in a carbon aluminium composite cylinder with a capacity of 110 litres at 35 MPa, installed in the trunk. The cylinder is a product produced by Dynetek Industries in Canada and imported by JFE Containers.

According to Mazda, they were able to bring about a low cost commercialization because existing engine components and production facilities could be used. The fee for lease is ¥400,000 a month, about half that for a current fuel cell vehicle.

In October 2004 Mazda obtained a ministerial approval for a rotary hydrogen vehicle, and after numerous tests on public roads it reached the present practical application. In addition to Iwatani International, they have also leased such a car to Idemitsu Kosan. The company has plans furthermore to lease around 10 cars to commercial and local government organisations.