1 million hydrogen vehicles by 2020

Don't kill me for sounding too negative about Tata and government's alternative energy efforts.

Not that there is no action around alternative energy. Our minister for non-conventional energy resources Mr Vilas Muttemwar recently told BBC that India will have 1 million hydrogen powered vehicles on road by 2020.

The Steering group on Hydrogen is chaired by none other than Mr Ratan Tata. And he "has estimated an investment Rs.250 billion (~ US $ 6 billion) over 15 years" to make the 1 million hydrogen vehicles dream possible. If you read this article, notice that few of governments's plans have been described as over ambitious.

The talk seems to be only around hydrogen. And not much else. Hybrid cars have been the talk in US recently. So far, only Mahindra has announced a hybrid vehicle, an SUV. True, diesel cars give similar mileage as hybrids. But lets get our automotive industry (and not you and me) to start debating this. Everyone knows fuel economy is the biggest criteria for car purchase here, still no serious efforts? I find that too surprising, perhaps auto companies are cooking things secretively. No, upcoming Honda Civic (new to India) isn't hybrid :(

Incentives start small. Take non automotive sectors. And think government sponsored rebates on replacing filament bulbs with fluorescent lamps (CFL). Incentives for buying solar water heaters. Perhaps these doles exist, but I wouldn't know, because there isn't much publicity. As for the incentives for non-conventional energy businesses, I came to know of these when I read about the Suzlon controversy.

Back to the auto sector, I would not allow new cars in the market unless they meet aggressively raised bars on fuel economy or energy costs. Time is now, before Tata sells its million small cars. And before gasoline becomes the bottleneck for our economy. Don't bank solely on the hydrogen dreams.

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