Why is Nitin Gadkari using a hydrogen-powered car as a daily driver?

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Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari believes that India will soon become a ‘Green Hydrogen’ exporting country. Could the Toyota Mirai be a glimpse of things to come?

Why is Nitin Gadkari using a hydrogen-powered car as a daily driver?

Nitin Gadkari’s Toyota Mirai outside the Parliament House. (Image: Nitin Gadkari/Twitter)

It seems the push for alternative fuels has gone a step further with the Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari recently arriving at the Parliament House in a Toyota Mirai. What’s so special about the Mirai? It’s a hydrogen-based Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV), much like the Hyundai Nexo and Honda Clarity. This certainly shows the commitment of the government, and indeed, the Transport Ministry when it comes to the shift to more environmentally-friendly fuels.

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Is the Toyota Mirai an electric vehicle?

Essentially, yes. It’s powered by a 1.24kWh battery pack which is capable of producing a respectable 182PS and 406Nm of torque. What’s more, it has a claimed range of 646 kilometres, which is quite excellent when compared to some bigger EVs with bigger battery packs. But, the major difference lies in the way the Mirai stores its electricity. There’s also an essential difference in the way the power is delivered.

How is an FCEV different from BEV?

This is the important bit. The main difference lies in the way that energy is stored. Sure, the FCEV, too, has a battery pack, but a relatively smaller one and is paired to a hydrogen fuel cell. These fuel cells then use the electricity generated by the reaction between hydrogen and oxygen and even store it in a sealed tank, sort of like petrol, diesel or CNG-powered car. However, what makes the FCEV particularly interesting is the fact that the hydrogen gas can be restored in under five minutes.

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Will it catch on in India?

It’s certainly an avenue of alternative fuels that should be explored in greater detail. Not too long ago, Gadkari had launched this green hydrogen-based advanced fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV), Toyota Mirai, and said this is the first-of-its-kind project in India that aims to create an ecosystem for such vehicles in the country. Although it is more expensive than some of the battery electric vehicles out there, it could prove to be a cleaner way forward thanks to the fact that the tailpipes only emit water vapours as emissions. In fact, Gadkari put out a tweet saying India will soon become a ‘Green Hydrogen’ exporting country.

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