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India Rolls Out Fuel-cell Powered Bus for Public Transportation

Author: Michael Cheng   

India strives to become a major hub for electric transportation. Over the past few years, the local government has backed several projects designed to curtail the use of traditional, gas-powered buses.

Last month, India's largest fuel seller, Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOC), showed its support for the government's new-energy programs by launching the country's first hydrogen fuel cell-powered bus (Starbus). Produced by top automaker Tata Motors, the unit was unveiled in New Delhi.

Sustainable Inter-city Transportation

The bus is a hybrid unit, with 114 hp coming from a fuel-cell system and 250 hp coming from an electric motor. During operation, the vessels can seat a total of 30 passengers. The government is keeping a close eye on the project, which is backed by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR) and the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).

"Hydrogen powered Tata Starbus fuel cell bus is a zero-emission vehicle best suited for inter-city transportation for the masses and been developed in a partnership of ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation)," explained the Financial Express.

Before public deployment, the buses will undergo rigorous testing. After the trials, a decision will be made on the feasibility and advantages of the fuel-cell powered units.

With limited fuel cell depots in India, IOC will host and provide a hydrogen-based station for the trial. Moreover, IOC is also developing robust battery technology for automotive, commercial and large-scale applications.

MMRDA's Interests in EVs

Tata Motors is spearheading the adoption of electric transportation options in India. The company recently completed an order of 25 hybrid buses for the Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA).

According to Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, the units will be deployed in Mumbai, one of the largest cities in the country. Routes for the buses include the following: Borivali to Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC), Thane to BKC, Mulund to BKC and Kharghar to BKC.

Tata Motors claims the new buses will offer up to 28 percent fuel savings and up to 30 percent less emissions during use.

The local government is currently working towards a goal of 100 percent electric transportation in the area. A policy has been drafted to solidify the milestone, which requires a massive network of charging stations for support.

"Our ministry is focused on promoting the FAME Scheme. We had invited all states and cities to take advantage of the subsidy towards adopting electrified vehicles that will reduce pollution in the cities," said Anant Geete, Union Minister for Heavy Industries and Public Sector Enterprises.

"I am happy that MMRDA has taken a lead in adopting the new technology which will help Mumbai city reduce emission levels."

The chances of seeing more energy-efficient units from Tata Motors is very high, as the automotive giant is a leading (L1) bidder under the FAME Scheme. The buses offered are made in India and comes with roughly 187 miles (300 km) of range. Inside the units, operators are provided access to GPS guidance, a compact network of CCTV cameras and an on-board ITS.

Michael Cheng
Michael Cheng is a legal editor and technical writer with publications for Blackberry ISHN Magazine Houzz and Payment Week. He specializes in technology business and digesting hard data. Outside of work Michael likes to train for marathons spend time with his daughter and explore new places.
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