The world got its first fleet of hydrogen-fuelled three-wheelers on Monday when seven vehicles were unveiled at the ongoing Auto Expo 2012. Called ‘HyAlfa', the three-wheeler is almost a zero-emission vehicle while its fuel consumption is substantially lower as compared to gasoline with 1 kg of hydrogen giving around 80 km mileage.
The three-wheelers have been developed under a project, DelHy 3W, of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)'s International Centre for Hydrogen Energy Technologies (UNIDO-ICHET) in association with Mahindra & Mahindra and IIT-Delhi, besides being supported by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).
The project took three years and over $1 million.
Part of a development project dubbed DelHy 3w, a fleet of 15 HyAlfa three-wheelers will run on an experimental basis at Pragati Maidan, where a hydrogen refuelling station has also been set up.
The India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO), which organises trade fairs at Pragati Maidan, will use the vehicles on an experimental basis.
Mahindra & Mahindra President (Automotive and Farm Equipment Sectors) Pawan Goenka said: “The aim is to convert vehicles so that they can carry and use hydrogen, a carbon-free fuel, and remove all pollutants.” Though the vehicle was not yet ready for commercial production as it required more fine-tuning, he said commercial viability of running a hydrogen-powered three-wheeler was an issue as the fuel itself cost around Rs.250 a kg. The price of HyAlfa could be Rs.20,000-25,000 more than a CNG three-wheeler, which costs around Rs.2-lakh, in case of its mass production, he added.
According to UNIDO-ICHET Managing Director Mustafa Hatipoglu, “The DelHy 3W project aims to demonstrate hydrogen technologies developed by Indian partners for the Indian transport sector.”
The project was in line with the organisation's green industry initiative for sustainable industrial development, said UNIDO representative in India and Head of the Regional Office for South Asia Ayumi Fujino.