Tata Motors, a company which produces the world’s cheapest new auto, the Nano has decided to start testing light trucks and buses equipped with hydrogen fuel cells. In August 2009 I had talked about how Tata had announced they were working on a fuel cell version of the Nano as well
The FC powered light trucks and buses are now under rigorous testing at the company’s European Technical Centre. According to Tata Group Chief Engineer and spokesman John Richmond, “We are looking to run a fleet of fuel cell vehicles to gain experience of how they actually work in operation. That will be a stage prior to considering production.”
In 2006, Tata Motors had signed a memorandum of understanding with the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) to develop hydrogen fuel cell buses for them. There is an ongoing effort by Tata to develop more environmentally friendly autos that run on electricity, biofuels and hydrogen.
The Tata Nano is the world’s cheapest auto which started shipping in July 2009 in India for around $2,200 USD. The Nano has a top speed of around 65 mph and achieves between 50 mpg and 60 mpg.
Since many critics have stated that fuel cell autos will be too expensive when they first start entering the commercial marketplace, it will be interesting to see how a company like Tata known for its cost cutting production methods will keep the price down on their FCVs. It’s not in their business model to offer premium, luxury automobiles. So, for Tata to succeed, price and safety must be the top concerns.