Market leader Tata Motors showcased commercial vehicles with propulsion technologies including battery-electric, compressed natural gas (CNG), flex fuel, hydrogen fuel cell and hydrogen combustion engine.
“For us it is not only about electric vehicles; it is about every new technology,” Tata Motors chairman N Chandrasekaran said.
Rival Ashok Leyland has taken a similar path, with investments in battery-electric through its subsidiary Switch Mobility as well as liquified natural gas (LNG) and CNG-powered vehicles, among others. Meanwhile, VE Commercial Vehicles showcased a Volvo-branded electric truck along with Eicher-branded LNG and CNG trucks and an electric bus.
“Commercial vehicles are different from passenger vehicles,” said Saravanan N, chief technology officer of Ashok Leyland. “For PVs, the transition will be more or less from combustion engines to electric, but commercial vehicles will have a host of technologies.”
The dilemma is created by a host of reasons, experts said. Battery electric vehicle technology has not matured enough to power bulky trucks hauling multiple tonnes of cargo. Meanwhile, vehicles running on compressed or liquified natural gas – although lower on emissions than diesel and vital for ensuring India’s energy security – fall short of achieving the target of net-zero emissions.