The Tatas have formed a team to work closely with Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to develop cars that will run on hydrogen. Clive Hickman, head of research and development at Tata Motors, is spearheading the project.
Tata Motors is planning to launch the world's cleanest vehicle by 2008. Hickman, who joined the Tatas from UK-based automotive design consultancy major Radico, has been working on ideas related to alternative fuels like hydrogen, ethanol and bio-diesel. Engineers from the European Technology Centre of Tata Motors and Indian engineers are collaborating on the project. "This is mainly to synergise the expertise of European and Indian engineers," said a source close to the situation. The centre has been doing work on transferring technology and knowledge from Europe. A Tata group spokesperson declined to comment on the issue. For the new car, while ISRO will develop the technology, which includes storage and handling of fuels, the Tatas will undertake manufacturing.
Global car majors like Toyota, BMW, General Motors and Hyundai have their versions of hydrogen-powered cars. Car companies are increasingly taking initiatives to adopt engines powered by alternative fuels. This is mainly due to pressure from lawmakers to reduce emissions and tighten fuel economy. Recently, Ford said that it was planning to adopt other technologies such as diesel, hybrids and hydrogen power to improve the fuel economy of its cars and trucks.