Home / Auto News / Ashok Leyland sees future in hydrogen-fuelled CVs
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NEW DELHI : Ashok Leyland Ltd expects hydrogen-powered truck and buses to emerge as a self-sufficient green solution with commercial viability beginning in the next five years, at a time commercial vehicle makers prepare to invest in electric vehicles and natural gas and flexible fuel platforms.

A potential move to reduce tax on hydrogen, particularly green hydrogen that could help eliminate import content, and its availability along certain long-haul corridors could create a positive business case for hydrogen-powered vehicles in both internal combustion (IC) engine and fuel cell variants in the next five years, N. Saravanan, chief technology officer of the Hinduja Group company, said in an interview.

Hydrogen-powered long-haul trucks could make the total cost of ownership (TCO) lower than compressed natural gas (CNG) variants at the right level of adoption and cost, Saravanan said.

“Investing in hydrogen as a fuel is important for us because, even compared to CNG, where we have some import content, hydrogen could be theoretically self-sufficient. We’ll maybe start with grey hydrogen, but green hydrogen can be produced with investments going on with multiple players. We see hydrogen as a possibility and that possibility for us has two forms: IC engines and fuel cells. Priority-wise, we are looking at both technologies in parallel. However, we do believe that given Indian requirements, the comfort level with IC engines and the ecosystem, it may have a slight edge over fuel cells but how it pans out is anyone’s guess," Saravanan said.

“In the medium- to long-term, if hydrogen becomes available at the right cost, it will start making commercial sense because at that point, I would not be surprised if the government feels that hydrogen is a fuel that saves us foreign currency and, therefore, moves to lower tax on it. If that happens, it will trigger a certain amount of shift towards hydrogen," he said.

“The shift to hydrogen depends not only on the technological development of these vehicles, but also the readiness of the ecosystem. Most discussions seem to suggest that in the next three to five years, we’ll start seeing at least some amount of hydrogen production coming online, especially green hydrogen. I think in the next five years, we’ll start seeing at least availability of hydrogen across certain long-distance corridors. Then, we’ll see vehicles that actually make sense," Saravanan said.

Hydrogen as a fuel will be an attractive proposition in the long-distance truck segment and not in the lower range of vehicles, according to Ashok Leyland.

“I also see the challenge of packaging hydrogen tanks in smaller vehicles. If they are not very energy-efficient from a volumetric perspective, packaging them can be a challenge. So, therefore, we see the larger segment is where you will see hydrogen playing a role, whether it is fuel cells or IC-engine", Saravanan explained.

India aims to produce 5 million tonnes of green hydrogen by 2030. The National Hydrogen Mission unveiled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year aims to make India a hub for the production and export of green hydrogen. The policy is geared to help India meet its decarbonisation goals and reduce its energy import bill of $160 billion, according to a report by NITI Aayog.

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