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Toyota faces safety roadblock for fuel-cell vehicles in US

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Koji Sasahara/AP/File

(Read caption) A visitor walks near Toyota Motor's new fuel cell vehicle (FCV) on display at the company's showroom in Tokyo, June 26, 2014. Toyota's upcoming fuel-cell electric car faces a safety regulation that would prevent people from driving the car even after a small fender-bender.

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Cars sold in the US have to meet certain safety regulations in order to ensure their legality on US roads.

Unfortunately for Toyota, one of those safety regulations for electric vehicles would prevent its upcoming fuel-cell sedan from driving after even a small fender-bender – so the company is seeking exemption for the vehicle.

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According to Bloomberg, rule FMVSS No.305 requires automakers to isolate high-voltage parts in electric cars in the event of an accident.

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The aim is to make the car safe for occupants and first-responders should the vehicle be involved in a crash.

Toyota though says its fuel-cell vehicle would be rendered inoperable in a low-speed crash if such a system was installed, and seeks a two-year exemption from legislators, allowing it to sell the vehicle in the States.

The company says its car will protect occupants and first-responders in a different way, insulating cables and surrounding components such as the fuel-cell stack, motor and battery with special metal protection barriers.

Toyota says electrical safety of its fuel-cell car will be at least 'equivalent' to those meeting current NHTSA standards.

The vehicle is only expected to sell in small numbers too – Toyota is limiting deliveries to 2,500 units per year, following the model's introduction around April 2015.

The Japanese firm recently released photos of the production version of its fuel-cell sedan, following several years of concept cars.

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In Japan, the car will cost approximately 7 million yen before tax – around $68,700 at current exchange rates.