Gadkari urges carmakers to stop ‘production and sale’ of diesel vehicles, switch to alternative fuels

Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday asked vehicle manufacturers to discourage production and sale of diesel engine vehicles, and urged them to promote other technologies. Addressing industry body SIAM’s annual convention virtually, Gadkari said the government is committed to delivering vehicles with flex engines that give the users an option to run a vehicle on either 100 percent petrol or 100 percent bio-ethanol.

“I appeal the vehicle manufacturers to discourage the production and sale of diesel engine vehicles. Diesel-based pollution is extremely hazardous to the environment and human health.

“The industry must promote alternative fuel technologies and fund R&D (research and development) for alternative fuels,” he said.

The government last year had set a target of reaching 10 percent ethanol blending in petrol by 2022. Image: Doug Peters via Pixabay

The government last year had set a target of reaching 10 percent ethanol blending in petrol by 2022. Image: Doug Peters via Pixabay

“This will be immensely helpful in cutting our import bill and giving a direct benefit to our farmers, without a compromise on the environment,” he said.

Gadkari also said flex engine-based vehicles are already running in the US, Brazil and Canada, and a few of these brands are successfully operating in India also.

“The technology is readily available, and it is just a matter of time to take that leap which will transform the transport landscape of India forever,” Gadkari noted.

The minister said he has been informed by the petroleum ministry officials that ethanol pumps will soon be started in every district of the country.

He said the government has released the report of the Expert Committee on Roadmap for Ethanol Blending in India by 2025, which discusses the gradual roll-out of 20 percent ethanol blending in petrol (E20) by 2025.

The minister also emphasised that the industry must also take upon itself a social responsibility to ensure that some optional features like retro-reflective tapes, hand-rails, automatic helmet sensing-cum-reminder system and stand detection system, are installed across all segments of vehicles for vehicular and rider safety.

The government also sees potential in hydrogen fuel-cell tech for vehicle powertrains. Image: BMW

The government also sees potential in hydrogen fuel-cell tech for vehicle powertrains. Image: BMW

He said his ministry is also exploring prospects of hydrogen fuel cells vehicles (HFCVs).

“Green-hydrogen is the fuel for the future. We need to find appropriate technologies for its generation, transportation and storage,” he said adding that low-cost electrolysers will be the game changer in the energy ecosystem in India.

He stressed that the focus has been to make Indian vehicles at par with international standards in terms of crash safety, body designs and corporate average fuel efficiency (CAFÉ) Norms.

He noted that there is also a need to improve bus body quality for the safety and comfort of passengers. Provision of high-tech and AC cabins in trucks and long-run buses will improve the ease of driving and avoid driver fatigue, which is a major reason for accidents in heavy-duty vehicles which operate on long routes, he said.

Noting that the global trust in Indian vehicles has increased, Gadkari said, “Our exports have risen to the international market.”

Local production of ACC batteries is expected to spur demand for electric vehicles in the country. Image: Mercedes-Benz

Local production of ACC batteries is expected to spur demand for electric vehicles in the country. Image: Mercedes-Benz

He also said there is a need to develop low-cost indigenous battery technologies for electric vehicles (EVs).

“Development of charging infrastructure is very important for EV adoption,” he said adding that the government is strongly encouraging renewable energy-based charging mechanism for such vehicles.

Gadkari said the government is promoting the adoption of cleaner and greener alternative fuels like ethanol, methanol, bio-diesel, bio-CNG, LNG, electric and green-hydrogen fuel cell technology to reduce dependency on petrol and diesel.