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Ashok Leyland Charts a Different Course: Hydrogen for Heavy Vehicles, Batteries for Light

13 Feb 2024

India's commercial vehicle giant focuses on hydrogen for long-haul trucks and buses, leaving batteries for smaller segments.

Key Points:

  • Ashok Leyland diverges from competitors, prioritizing hydrogen for medium and heavy vehicles.

  • Battery-electric options limited to three categories: light and intermediate trucks and medium buses.

  • Hydrogen ICE and FCEV options planned for long-haul trucks, buses, and medium/heavy trucks.

  • Decision driven by range and refueling limitations of batteries for long-distance applications.

  • India's lack of hydrogen infrastructure poses a challenge, but companies are working on solutions.

Ashok Leyland, a leading player in India's commercial vehicle industry, has unveiled its roadmap for alternative fuel technologies, marking a distinct approach compared to its peers. While companies like Tata Motors and Mahindra & Mahindra focus on battery-electric vehicles (BEVs), Ashok Leyland is betting big on hydrogen for its medium and heavy-duty trucks and buses.

Why Hydrogen for Heavy Vehicles?

  • Range limitations: Battery technology currently falls short for long-haul applications with its limited range.

  • Refueling time: Charging large batteries can take hours, compared to minutes for hydrogen refueling.

  • Energy density: Hydrogen's higher energy density compared to batteries offers greater range capabilities.

Ashok Leyland's Hydrogen Strategy:

  • Developing both hydrogen internal combustion engine (H2 ICE) and fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) options.

  • Targeting long-haul trucks and buses, as well as medium and heavy trucks.

  • Emphasizing FCEVs and hydrogen ICE options for long-haul categories due to their range and refueling advantages.

Challenges and Opportunities:

  • Lack of hydrogen refueling infrastructure in India, but companies like Reliance and Adani are working on solutions.

  • Potential cost advantages of hydrogen compared to batteries in the long run.

Ashok Leyland's strategic focus on hydrogen for heavy vehicles positions them as a leader in this emerging technology. While challenges remain, their approach addresses the limitations of batteries for long-haul applications, potentially offering a cleaner and more sustainable solution for India's goods movement.

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