Tata Motors also betting on hydrogen for carbon neutral drive

by Shahkar Abidi & Sumantra Bibhuti Barooah 24 Sep 2021

Tata Motors is in "active discussions" towards setting up a target to be carbon neutral, according to Rajendra Petkar, the auto major's President & Chief Technology Officer (CTO). As part of the overall plans, Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) and hydrogen fuel cell technologies are set to gain more space in the OEM's efforts towards green mobility.  

While the OEM has already embarked on the electric mobility journey with a set of passenger vehicle models, Hydrogen fuel cell technology will play a major role in the commercial vehicle side, the top executive added. 

Speaking to Autocar Professional, Petkar says,"It’s going to be a journey, it’s going to be continuous  and in the process of reaching the net zero, we will be looking at the technologies that will help in reducing the carbon dioxide emissions from the vehicle tailpipes."

According to Petkar, hydrogen cell technology, also a zero-emission technology like pure BEVs, will find greater adoption in commercial vehicles (CV) due to its ability to offer longer driving range. In fact, the start of hydrogen adoption has already been made when Tata Motors bagged orders for 15 hydrogen-based fuel cell buses from Indian Oil in June this year.

The energy major and Tata Motors will be jointly testing these buses for public transport in the National Capital Region (NCR). IOCL will be refuelling the buses with hydrogen produced at its refineries. Meanwhile, IOCL is also running a Supreme Court monitored project in NCR entailing 50 Hydrogen-CNG (H-CNG) buses. 

The development seems significant considering the fact that India is a signatory to the Paris agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention, along with 189 other countries, on climate change (UNFCCC) which has set a target of limiting the global rise in temperature by less than 2 degree celsius by the end of century. 

According to Petkar, the demand for hydrogencurrently is under a 'virtuous cycle' with supply side innovation and policy push from the lawmakers adding up to drive the hydrogen economy across the world including in India. 

Talking about the possible inflection point for adoption of hydrogen in the industry, Petkar says that it could be similar to the forecast for BEVs, which seems to have fast forwarded to as early as 2025 from around 2030 earlier. "When it comes to fuel cell vehicles it will not be that early, knowing where we are today. But looking at the development of the virtuous cycle, it will happen in the second half of the decade. It’s a matter of whether it happens in 2028 or 2030", says Petkar, while stressing that his company wants to be ready with it when the time arrives.

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