Reliance’s new truck adds muscle to India’s hydrogen vehicles plan

Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries (RIL) has nudged India’s ambitious hydrogen mission ahead.

The firm yesterday (Feb. 6) introduced India’s first-ever hydrogen-run truck, developed in partnership with Ashok Leyland, at the ongoing India Energy Week in Bengaluru.

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“The hydrogen internal combustion engine (H2-ICE)...will emit near zero emissions, deliver performance on par with conventional diesel trucks...reduce noise, and with projected reductions in operating costs, thus, redefining the future of green mobility,” RIL said in a press statement.

The truck is embedded with two large hydrogen cylinders.

Image:  RIL
Image: RIL

RIL has, however, said it first wants to “extensively test and validate the H2-ICE technology” for heavy-duty trucks before deploying it commercially at scale.

If successful, RIL’s new offering could curb vehicular emissions significantly in India as heavy-duty trucks, accounting for more than half the country’s road traffic, are major polluters. The number of such trucks is expected to more than quadruple in India, from four million now to roughly 17 million by 2050 (pdf), according to government data.

India’s green dream

India aims to be the world’s largest producer and exporter of hydrogen, produced by splitting water using electricity.

The recently government-approved $2.38 billion National Hydrogen Mission aims to establish a green hydrogen ecosystem and is a part of India’s vision to achieve net zero emissions by 2070.

Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari called it the “fuel of the future.” Last year in May, he even drove a Toyota Mirai, a hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric vehicle, to Parliament.

Meanwhile, other companies, too, have shown interest in developing hydrogen-powered vehicles.

Last month, US-based clean-energy mobility company, Triton Electric Vehicle, announced its own hydrogen-powered truck, to be manufactured in Gujarat. In January, Indian Oil Corporation sought the Kerala government’s permission to pilot hydrogen fuel cell-powered buses in the state.

On the other hand, global car makers Honda and Hyundai are exploring possibilities, including hybrid systems that switch between conventional and green-tech engines.

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