Eleven Japanese companies, including Toyota, Honda and Nissan, will work together to create a network of hydrogen refuelling stations across Japan.

Joining the three automakers are six energy and infrastructure companies (JXTG Nippon Oil & Energy, Idemitsu Kosan, Iwatani, Tokyo Gas, Toho Gas, and Air Liquide), as well as two financial firms (Toyota Tsusho, and the Development Bank of Japan).

The new joint venture will begin operation during the second quarter of 2018, and plans to build 80 new hydrogen refuelling stations across the nation during its first four years.

Above: Toyota Mirai.

Not only will the new company build and run these new fuel stops for at least 10 years, the as-yet-unnamed firm will look to standardise equipment and streamline regulations.

It's hoped this collaboration will "simultaneously accelerate and scale up" Japan's deployment of hydrogen refuelling stations, and increase the uptake of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and its Council for a Strategy for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells has set a target of 160 refuelling stations and 40,000 fuel cell cars by the 2020 Japanese financial year.

Above: Honda Clarity.

Although both the Toyota Mirai and second-generation Honda Clarity hydrogen fuel cell cars have a claimed driving range of over 500 kilometres, and refuelling times as quick as a conventional petrol or diesel vehicle, both have sold only in small numbers.

This is partially down to their high cost of purchase, but is also due to a dearth of refuelling infrastructure. Sales of both vehicles have been primarily limited to Japan, California and large corporations.