By Yuri Kageyama THE ASSOCIATED PRESS YOKOHAMA, Japan – Mazda unveiled a new hybrid vehicle on Tuesday that uses hydrogen fuel to power an electric motor. The Japanese automaker said it will be available for leasing in Japan next year. The Mazda Premacy Hydrogen RE Hybrid, shown to reporters ahead of its debut at the Tokyo Motor Show later this month, operates on a rotary engine, which runs almost silently because it doesn’t have pistons like standard engines. Hydrogen is combined with oxygen from the air to power the vehicle. It emits only water, rather than pollutants that have been linked to global warming. The new hybrid runs on hydrogen stored in a tank, but it can switch to gas when hydrogen runs out. Like other global automakers, Mazda, an affiliate of Ford Motor Co., has been working on hydrogen vehicles as consumers grow more interested in automobiles that don’t rely on fossil fuels. Ford’s 12-passenger shuttle bus powered by a 6.8-liter internal combustion hydrogen engine is operating at Orlando International Airport in Florida. Ford says its hydrogen technology is closest to mass production. The Michigan automaker said it could bring internal combustion hydrogen technology to market within five years but is dealing with fuel storage limits, public fear of hydrogen and availability at filling stations. Mazda officials said the latest hydrogen hybrid is an improvement over its previous hydrogen vehicle, leased since 2006, extending its run on a full tank of hydrogen from 62 miles to 124 miles. The new car also has a lithium-ion battery that drives the motor and recharges itself using energy from braking, further conserving on electricity. Mazda refused to say what supplier was providing the battery. Mazda Motor Corp. said it has no plans to lease the car outside Japan. The leasing fee will resemble the predecessor at about $3,500 a month, according to Mazda, so it’s aimed at government and ecological organizations. At its research facility in Yokohama, Mazda also showed a “concept car,” or show model, called Taiki, that it said was inspired by flowing wind. Its curvaceous surface creased with swooping lines, the slinky car looked like a metal stingray. Laurens van den Acker, general manager of design, said the sportscar highlights the Hiroshima-based automaker’s innovation in design. Its shape developed from studies of sheer fabric fluttering in the wind, and its interior was based on “koinobori,” or carp-shaped decorations of cloth that Japanese put up to sway in the wind to celebrate Children’s Day, a national holiday, said Chief Designer Atsuhiko Yamada. “Air is a very important substance, but it is invisible,” he said in explaining the design challenges. Mazda has been marking growing sales at a time when some automakers, including Ford Motor Co., has been struggling to make a turnaround amid faltering sales and cost cutting. Mazda’s global sales for the current fiscal year is expected to be up 4 percent to a record high 1.35million vehicles, surpassing the company’s previous record set in 1990, as it boosts vehicle sales in North America and Europe, offsetting flat sales in Japan.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!