VECV plans to invest Rs 250 crores in hydrogen projects over the next 3 yrs
VECV is developing six fuel technologies, including diesel, biodiesel, CNG/LNG, electrification, hydrogen ICE, and hydrogen fuel cell, with the last two still in development.
As India is fast pushing for the use of hydrogen for a cleaner future, Volvo Eicher Commercial Vehicles (VECV) aims to invest Rs 250 crore in hydrogen-based technologies in the next 3–4 years, as per Rajinder S Sachdeva, COO and Head of R&D, VECV.
At present, the company is working on six fuel technologies, namely diesel, biodiesel, CNG/LNG, electrification, hydrogen internal combustion engine (ICE), and hydrogen fuel cell, of which the last two are in the development stage.
According to Sachdeva, electric vehicle (EV) technology for commercial vehicles is not viable, as it makes them three times more expensive than their diesel counterparts. Citing examples of electric buses, he noted that these buses are being purchased solely on the back of subsidies, where the government is offering up to Rs 45 lakh in subsidies on a Rs 1 crore electric bus.
Furthermore, he also pointed out that the electric vehicle's footprint is not as entirely clean as we assume, once the manufacturing process and batteries are taken into account.
“For CVs, I believe that hydrogen ICE is more suitable for Indian applications as we can sustain the current infrastructure of your powertrain solutions. Almost 10 million people are working in the powertrain industry, which includes software, engine components, and sensors. We strongly feel that all these jobs can be retained with hydrogen ICE. So, as a company, we have decided to invest Rs 250 crore in different hydrogen technologies,” Sachdeva told Autocar Professional.
Talking about the cost parity, Sachdeva said that the levelised cost of production for green hydrogen is estimated to range between $US5.5 per kg to $US 6 per kg. “Companies like Reliance Industries are working in the direction of lowering the cost of production of hydrogen. If in the coming days, it comes down to $US 1 per kg, it will be similar to CNG,” he added.
Currently, VECV is developing two engines, one for medium-duty trucks and another for heavy-duty vehicles, with the expertise of Volvo Group. Both are being designed to give a range of 700 km and 1,500 km, respectively, he highlighted.
“There are two phases in new product development: the first phase is technology development, and the second phase is introduction planning, where we work on execution. Now we are testing hydrogen ICE technology in the laboratory. If it succeeds in the tests, we are confident about introducing it in the Indian market in the next 2.5–3 years. For fuel cells, the timeline is much longer, as it is more sensitive to the hydrogen quality, overload, temperature, and dust environment as compared to hydrogen ICE,” Sachdeva added.
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