Toyota's fuel cell vehicles will not be cheap when they hit the market in 2015.

Looking to expand its green auto offerings beyond the realm of hybrids, Toyota has announced that it plans to start global sales of fuel cell vehicles by 2015.

One of the reasons Toyota has set its sights on the year 2015 is related to the expense of building the fuel cells themselves: the automaker predicts the cost to drop to 1/20th the amount in 2008 by 2015 through advances in materials and the actual construction processes.

Even with the cost reductions in place, initial prices will likely still be high enough to limit total annual sales to just several thousand units.

"We could expect a fuel cell vehicle to retail at about 100,000 euros ($138,000) in Europe," said Alain Uyttenhoven, Toyota's European Vice President for Product Planning & Marketing.

Fuel cell vehicles come as part of Toyota's efforts to meet increasingly stringent emissions standards in Europe and elsewhere. Next year, the automaker will offer a plug-in hybrid version of the Prius that betters the 1.3-mile pure electric range of the normal Prius with a 14.3-mile range.

"Our research shows that more than 80 percent of urban daily trips are less than the 20km (12.4 miles)," Uyttenhoven said.

1.'Toyota aims to...' view