New Delhi - The ministry of non-conventional energy sources (MNES) is hopeful of having hydrogen-driven vehicles on Indian roads by 2007 with International Tractors Ltd (ITL) having agreed to undertake commercial production.
"While hydrogen fuel cell vehicles is a long-term plan, we hope to have vehicles with hydrogen combustion engine in present vehicles running within the next five years," minister of Non-Conventional Energy Sources Vilas Muttemwar said here Wednesday.
Addressing the annual Editors' Conference on Social Sector Issues, the minister said two- and three-wheeler vehicles are expected to hit the roads soon, ahead of the hydrogen-driven car.
"With ITL, which manufactures Sonalika brand of tractors, having agreed to undertake commercial manufacture of two- and three-wheeler hydrogen vehicles developed by the Banaras Hindu University (BHU), we hope to have them available by 2007," said S K Chopra, senior advisor in MNES.
"Details of the commercial production are still to be worked out. We expect initial production of about 500 vehicles."
BHU has been using 50 demo vehicles in its campus for the last several years.
While development of affordable hydrogen fuel cell vehicles using renewable sources of energy still remains a target for a large number of countries including India, the vehicle developed by the BHU uses metal hydrite or solid rods to store hydrogen, an environment friendly fuel.
Each recharge currently gives around 70 km mileage.
Chopra admitted that the vehicle developed by BHU would be three to four times more expensive than the conventional two- or three-wheeler and the cost of operation would also be more. But as the technology develops, the cost is expected to come down substantially.
Attempts are also on to increase the mileage of the hydrogen vehicle to 100-150 km per recharge.
The government is helping fund the research for development of hydrogen using renewable sources in place of the present dependence on coal or natural gas. It is also being produced as a by-product in chemical and fertiliser industries.
Earlier this week, the ministry finalised the hydrogen roadmap that envisages India generating 1,000 MW power and one million hydrogen driven vehicles on the roads by 2020 with an estimated investment of Rs 2500 crore.
"Within a week or fortnight we hope to seek the cabinet's approval for the hydrogen roadmap," the minister said.
The roadmap is to be part of the integrated energy policy being finalised.