Toyota Motor Corp. on Saturday entered a racing car powered by liquid hydrogen into a 24-hour endurance race in central Japan, making it the first such car in the world to participate in an official race.

The move is the latest endeavor by the Japanese automaker to popularize hydrogen as a cleaner alternative to fossil fuel amid tightening environmental regulations worldwide since it does not emit carbon dioxide when burnt.

Toyota, the developer of the world's first mass-produced fuel cell vehicle, Mirai, has said offering a wide range of green vehicles, including hybrid cars, is more effective in cutting their carbon footprint than just focusing on electric vehicles.

Photo shows a Toyota racing car powered by liquid hydrogen during a 24-hour endurance race at Fuji Speedway in Oyama, Shizuoka Prefecture, central Japan, on May 27, 2023. (Kyodo)

The entry comes as the use of hydrogen gains popularity across industries. Four major motorcycle makers in Japan, including Kawasaki Motors Ltd., said earlier this month they will jointly develop hydrogen-powered engines with an eye to launching them on two-wheelers.

The race at Fuji Speedway in Shizuoka Prefecture will be held through Sunday.

Toyota started to run a hydrogen engine car in a race in May 2021, using gaseous hydrogen. It initially aimed to enter a liquid hydrogen vehicle into a race this March, but the plan stalled after a vehicle caught fire during a test run.

By subjecting the liquid hydrogen car to endurance races, Toyota intends to improve the nascent technology's functionality and address some of its challenges, including how to keep liquid hydrogen at an extremely low temperature.

Using hydrogen in liquid form instead of its gaseous state would double a car's mileage and allow for smaller hydrogen fueling stations, Toyota said. The automaker is aiming to commercialize hydrogen engine cars in the future.

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