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 Climate Change

Energy
Published on: Aug. 3, 2021, 11:28 a.m.
Hydrogen an ‘interesting alternative’: Maruti
  • Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell electric vehicle at Hydrogen Gas Station; Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

By Business India Editorial

According to RC Bhargava, chairman, Maruti Suzuki, India's top-selling carmaker, the use of hydrogen power for mobility is an “interesting alternative” for India, mainly because it would reduce reliance on lithium imports. Demand for lithium for batteries is increasing as governments around the world press automakers to meet stringent carbon-emissions targets, including by phasing out internal combustion engines. 

However, in India, carmakers have been slow to adopt electric vehicles (EVs) due to high battery costs and a lack of charging infrastructure. India also lacks lithium reserves, the vast majority of which are controlled by China on a global scale. 

Bhargava, in the company's annual report, wrote this makes EVs difficult to sell in a country like India, where per capita income is around $2,000, or about 5 per cent of that in Europe and Japan, and 95 per cent of cars sold are priced below $20,000.

 “We need to recognise that our strategy for moving towards net zero emission has to be consistent with the economic and infrastructure conditions prevailing in the country. To reduce fuel consumption and emissions, Maruti is pushing sales of cars that operate on compressed natural gas (CNG), and is also investing in hybrid technology,” he said. Bhargava concluded that “the use of hydrogen is also an interesting alternative.”

According to Bhargava, Suzuki Motor Corp, which owns Maruti, is also prioritising the development of clean technologies suitable for the Indian market, and Suzuki's alliance with Toyota Motor Corp in Japan will be beneficial in this endeavour.

Bhargava’s remarks were made as the debate over EVs heats up in India, with Tesla Inc lobbying the government to lower import duties on electric vehicles. 

Tesla's demands have polarised India's auto industry, with South Korea's Hyundai Motor Co – which has about 18 per cent of the country's car market and is Maruti's closest competitor – advocating for a tax cut on imports. 

Maruti's comments in support of hydrogen come just weeks after Mukesh Ambani, chairman of refiner Reliance Industries, announced a $10 billion investment in clean energy, including the construction of gigafactories to produce fuel cells and green hydrogen.


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