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Tata Motors, others bet on alternative tech to cut carbon emissions

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Tata Motors, and other companies like Ashok Leyland are betting on alternative technologies to reduce carbon emissions. Cummins demonstrated its hydrogen internal combustion engine for medium and heavy-duty lorries.

As India pursues its clean energy commitments, the commercial vehicle industry is preparing to adopt low- or zero-emission technologies, investing in hydrogen fuel cells, hydrogen-powered internal combustion engines (hydrogen-ICE), and battery electric vehicles to address a variety of commercial applications and mobility needs.

Hydrogen-ICE technology has the potential to be a more viable and accessible alternative to hydrogen fuel cells.

The internal combustion engine here uses a clean and carbon-free fuel such as hydrogen, which is also more financially sustainable. It also  acts as a stepping stone to hydrogen fuel cells, which will power large commercial vehicles as well as intracity and interstate buses.

While green hydrogen’s storage, availability, and high cost may restrict its benefits for short-distance applications, the industry is also banking heavily on battery electric cars and CNG-powered light commercial vehicles as a superior intra-city option.

Girish Wagh, executive director, Tata Motors, said, “Hydrogen ICE vehicles are becoming a promising new technology with some key advantages over hydrogen fuel cell EVs: they are more tolerant to impurities in hydrogen, but more importantly, they can draw on a lot of the infra and platforms that are currently in use for ICE, as opposed to fuel cell EVs, which is a completely new technology.”

Tata Motors is developing this technology, as well as other alternative fuel technologies, in collaboration with Cummins, a power technology solutions supplier based in the United States. “Our Memorandum of Understanding with Cummins for diesel engines will also include emerging technologies such as hydrogen fuel cells, hydrogen ICE, and battery electric cars,” Wagh stated.

At the Auto Expo 2023, Cummins displayed their hydrogen internal combustion engine, the B6.7H, for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.

Tata Motors’ commercial vehicle division has pledged to achieve net-zero emissions by 2045.

“If we are to achieve net-zero emissions as a country by 2070, no vehicle may be created or sold unless it emits zero carbon emissions, which means we must stop selling any polluting vehicle by 2055, assuming a 15-year life-cycle for a vehicle. We will no longer sell carbon-emitting vehicles by 2045, and our path to that point will be formed by a variety of vehicles based on criteria such as energy security, import substitution targets, and emission reductions,” Wagh added.

Tata Motors demonstrated four clean propulsion options in long-haul trucking, all of which were integrated into the Prima range: hydrogen ICE, hydrogen fuel cell EV, battery EV, and LNG.

It also displayed the Starbus fuel cell EV idea, India’s first commercial hydrogen fuel cell bus.

At the exhibition, Ashok Leyland also displayed an LNG truck, a fuel cell electric truck, and a hydrogen-ICE vehicle.

Dheeraj Hinduja, Ashok Leyland’s executive chairman, stated, “The breadth of our new clean-energy solutions, which include both the truck and bus sectors, underlines our capability and readiness to lead the road transportation revolution. We will stay fully committed to the cause of sustainability, seeking to dominate the market with our next-generation commercial vehicles,”

Switch Mobility, an Ashok Leyland company that manufactures zero-emission pure-electric commercial vehicles, displayed an electric light commercial vehicle and an electric mini-bus, EiV, at the Auto Expo.

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