Mahindra is pushing hard to develop alternate fuel vehicles. Dr Pawan Goenka, president - Auto Sector, reveals their work on CNG-hydrogen vehicles.
You have spoken about your work on using a mix of hydrogen and CNG to power your vehicles. Can you tell us more about this?
Basically this is a special technology for mixing CNG and hydrogen. The more the hydrogen you have in the mix, the lower are your emissions.
Can the government supply this mix to enough fuel stations?
Indian Oil is, in fact, working on setting up one station right now to supply this mix and this is what we are using for testing purposes. This is a very serious project that has been sponsored by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and many manufacturers are participating. We are all developing our vehicles to run on this mix and I think it is 20 percent hydrogen and the rest is CNG. This is a step towards using pure hydrogen to power vehicles in the future.
What are the benefits of using this mix?
The advantage is that the changes required in the vehicle’s engine are not very significant and the infrastructure can be the same. The problem comes when you want to use pure hydrogen as the fuel since you then need to set up a new fuelling infrastructure which is very difficult and costly.
What is the demand you foresee for these vehicles?
It’s at an exploratory stage and will depend on two things, the final cost of the hydrogen CNG mix versus pure CNG and the availability of hydrogen. Right now we have excess hydrogen in the country but once it starts getting used for automotive purposes, then there might be a supply issue. Another factor is whether enough vehicles can run on this mix because of the lack of fuelling infrastructure. Whenever it happens, it has to happen in large numbers, with not just new vehicles but existing ones as well.