General Motors says it will have a fuel-cell vehicle in production by 2015 at the latest.

Ailing car giant GM - owners of Saab, Vauxhall, Chevrolet and more - will use some of the $9 billion it is saving from various cost-cutting measures such as plant closures and redundancies to fund production versions of its fuel-cell vehicles. The next-generation of fuel-cell vehicles would use a chemical reaction between hydrogen stored in a fuel tank and oxygen to produce an electric current that powers the car.

Development of a fuel-cell version of its prototype Sequel SUV is fairly advanced, according to senior GM officials, who have made advancing technology, fuel economy and design at the centre of their future plans.

GM, like other major automakers, has been readying new vehicles that will reduce reliance on petrol and offered improved efficiency, including petrol-electric hybrids and diesel engines. The Sequel is said to have an unprecedented range of around 300 miles between hydrogen fill-ups and is able hit 60mph in 10 seconds.

California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has pledged to build a network of hydrogen filling stations for fuel-cell vehicles but China is expected to be the first real market for mass adoption of fuel-cell vehicles.