Despite conventional petrol-electric hybrid and newer plug-in hybrid vehicles getting all the media spotlight, carmakers like Toyota are still investigating the benefits and feasibility of hydrogen powered fuel cell vehicles. In fact, Toyota has just announced the development of a next-generation fuel cell hybrid that can travel more than twice the distance of previous models.

The improved model's maximum cruising range is 516miles (830km) compared with 205miles (330km) for the previous generation. Dubbed FCHV-adv, the new prototype vehicle has been approved by the Japanese government for leasing. Speaking with the Associated Press, Toyota spokeswoman Kayo Doi revealed there were plans for an overseas launch but final details are yet to be confirmed.

Fuel cell cars are essentially all-electric vehicles that run on electrical energy created by a chemical reaction that combines hydrogen with oxygen. Toyota’s FCHV-adv, however, is a hybrid and includes both the fuel cell powertrain as well as a conventional petrol engine.

Fuel efficiency in the FCHV-adv was improved 25% with better braking and other changes, including minus 30 degree Celsius operation.

Despite Toyota’s advances, rival carmaker Honda has already released a production fuel cell vehicle in the form of the FCX Clarity, which is set to go on sale in the U.S. and Japan later this year.