Electrolysis of water produces hydrogen and oxygen. The reverse reaction, combining hydrogen with the oxygen in the air generates electricity. This phenomenon can be used to drive the electric motor of a fuel cell vehicle. These vehicles do not use fossil fuels and emit only water as exhaust, with no generation of greenhouse gases such as CO2, or other noxious substances. The world's automobile manufacturers are currently competing to develop the next-generation low-emission vehicles.
Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, and Ministry of the Environment jointly formulated the Action Plan for the Development and Promotion of Low-Emission Vehicles in 2001. This includes targets for the introduction of 50,000 fuel cell electric vehicles by 2010. As of March 2006, approximately 50 vehicles have been brought to Japan's roads, driven by public agencies and energy-related organizations.
Against this background, Mazda has realized the world's first hydrogen-fueled rotary engine vehicle and began commercial leasing the RX-8 Hydrogen RE in February 2006. While fuel cell electric generate electricity to power the vehicle's motor, the rotary engine mounted in the RX-8 Hydrogen RE uses hydrogen as a fuel for combustion. This is the company's "Ultimate Eco-Car,"developed faithfully in accordance with Mazda's mission to build fun-to-drive Zoom-Zoom cars. We have achieved a high-environmental-performance vehicle with reduced oil resource consumption, zero CO2 emissions and virtually no NOx generation, without sacrifices in torque, acceleration and exhaust tail note experience compared with an internal combustion engine.