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Environment Day 2024 Special: Here’s How The Heavy Commercial Vehicle Industry Is Going Green

Modified On Jun 05, 2024 06:10 PMBy Ketan Birla

The Indian commercial vehicle industry is exploring several green options for the decarbonisation of the heavy-duty truck segment. Take a look at the multiple pathways adopted by OEMs for eco-friendly transportation.

Key Highlights

  • Heavy commercial vehicles play an important role in fulfilling long-haul cargo transportation needs but the rate of electrification is slow in this segment. 
  • Due to the price-sensitive nature of the heavy-duty truck segment, Indian commercial vehicle manufacturers are open to embracing a technology-agnostic approach.   
  • Battery-powered heavy commercial vehicles including Propel’s electric dumpers, Olectra’s Meghaetron electric tipper, and Volvo’s 4X2 electric tractor-trailer, help to ensure zero carbon emission.   
  • With clean fuel technology like hydrogen ICE, the Indian brands showcased their innovative products at the Bharat Mobility Global Expo 2024 and Auto Expo 2023 to offer eco-friendly mobility solutions. 

Long-haul trucks, tippers and trailers are among the medium and heavy commercial vehicles (MHCVs) that perform most of the long-range commercial transportation tasks in India. Talking about the country’s vision of clean mobility, there is a big ‘elephant in the room’ to integrate affordable and practical electric vehicle (EV) technology into the heavy-duty truck segment.  

Thanks to high up-front costs and inadequate charging infrastructure on the highways and hinterlands, the rate of electrification in this commercial vehicle (CV) segment is very low. With the rapid pace of industrialisation, the demand for long-haul cargo transportation is increasing every day. 

Given the dynamic and cost-sensitive nature of the heavy commercial vehicle market, MHCV manufacturers are willing to embrace the technology-agnostic approach in order to meet the zero carbon emission target by utilising green and clean fuel. With this approach, the heavy commercial vehicle industry has explored multiple pathways to ride environment-friendly. Let’s explore these.

Related Link: Blue Energy Motors Achieves A New Milestone In Decarbonisation Journey

Battery-Powered Heavy Commercial Vehicles

For heavy commercial vehicles (HCVs), the high payload capacity and maximum uptime considerations play an important role in haulage operations. These vehicles are still in the early stages of EV technology because the battery packs contribute a significant amount of dry weight which limits the vehicles' load-carrying capacity and range capability.

Despite having such issues with electric powertrains, many CV brands have developed electric heavy-duty commercial vehicles. Propel 470 HEV and Propel 470 MEV are considered the country’s first smart electric dumper trucks in the 60-tonne and 45-tonne gross vehicle weight (GVW) categories, respectively. These are specially designed for off-road mining applications, ensuring a clean environment with high performance. 

The Propel company claims to revolutionise mining productivity through its electric dump trucks by minimising 70 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per truck annually. Similarly, the Olectra brand has introduced the Meghaetron electric tipper which offers 120-150 km range. This 28-tonne GVW electric tipper provides 2 load body options – a 14 or 16-cubic metre rock body and a 16 or 18-cubic metre box body – to handle bulky mining material. 

Regarding green commercial vehicle technology, Tata Motors claims to be committed to green mobility by sourcing eco-friendly raw materials, helping to reduce tailpipe emissions. Tata Motors has expanded its EV portfolio by including an intermediate electric truck with enhanced charging and driving range and a 4x2 heavy tractor-trailer and tipper that runs on batteries. 

On the other hand, Ashok Leyland is developing an electric 4x2 tractor-trailer and a 14-tonne electric haulage truck by incorporating battery-electrics into its heavy-duty AVTR modular platform. At Bharat Mobility Global Expo 2024, Volvo Trucks India showcased its revolutionary electric heavy-duty truck – Volvo FM 4X2 Electric Highway Tractor Truck – to achieve carbon neutrality.

Hydrogen ICE Technology In HCV Segment

This emerging era of zero carbon-emission commercial mobility in India was demonstrated at the Auto Expo 2023, Greater Noida, held last year and the recently concluded Bharat Mobility Global Expo 2024, where Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) showcased a variety of innovative products to push the heavy-vehicle industry beyond the low-carbon technologies of CNG and LNG. 

Among innovative products and cutting-edge technologies, the hydrogen ICE (internal combustion engine) technology is prominent for heavy trucks. At Auto Expo 2023, Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland unveiled their iterations of this technology and the engine technology supplier, Cummins, also presented a 'fuel-agnostic' IC powertrain that supports hydrogen fuel. 

Largely similar to CNG engines, hydrogen engines do not change much metamorphically but hydrogen technology modifies the engine heads, fuel ignition system, and control electronics. Hence, it is easier for OEMs to adopt this technology without any metamorphic change to transition out of diesel. 

In this background, Tata Motors has introduced the heavy-duty Prima E.55S trailer and Prima H.55S truck which are powered by hydrogen fuel. Both models have a 55-tonne gross combination weight (GCW) with around 38-tonne payload capacity. They are propelled by hydrogen ICE technology which helps to deliver a 350-500 km driving range to ensure long-haul cargo movement.  

LNG Heavy Commercial Vehicles 

Indian heavy commercial vehicle industry has witnessed another green and clean fuel technology – LNG (liquified natural gas) – which is stored in a fuel tank and works similarly to a diesel-powered vehicle with a spark-ignited internal combustion engine. Since LNG is not a pure clean fuel option, it provides lesser emission to the environment as compared to diesel and CNG-powered vehicles. 

Blue Energy is working on this technology to utilise LNG fuel in heavy-duty trucks to ensure reduced carbon emissions in the Indian transportation sector. Its BE 5528 Plus 4x2 trailer comes with a 49-tonne GCW and is capable of carrying 36-tonne cargo loads. Using this vehicle, the brand emphasises reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 27 percent. 

Go Green With Eco-Friendly Commercial Vehicles

The ambitious goal set by the Indian government is to reduce the emissions intensity by 45 percent by the year 2030. This target can be achieved by utilising clean fuel technology to ensure minimal carbon footprints and green commercial vehicle mobility. In this backdrop, the Indian commercial vehicle industry is finding several ways to decarbonise the heavy-duty truck segment, led by low-carbon CNG and LNG fuels in the short run, zero-carbon hydrogen ICE technology in the middle run, and EV technology in the long run. 

Read More

Safe and Sustainable: Blue Energy Motors' LNG Trucks Set New Standards for India's Trucking Industry

World Environment Day 2024 Special: Is Battery Swapping Technology The Future Of India’s Commercial Trucks?

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