After it had seemed that the future of a hydrogen vehicle economy in India was stalling, as recently reported in Gasworld, it appears that Indian vehicle manufacturers are teaming up with international firms and investing in research into commercially viable greener transport technologies.

Joining the global race to make less-polluting, greener vehicles, India is encouraging the use of bio-fuels made from renewable sources for greater energy security and emission reduction.

Conventional petrol and diesel engines are used overwhelmingly in passenger and commercial vehicles in the country, yet cleaner-burning compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) are gaining in popularity, though curtailed by limited availability.

A decade since Toyota Motor Corp launched the hybrid Prius, Indian firms from Tata Motors Ltd to Reva are testing options from bio-diesel to hybrids and are encouraged to do so by the rising demand. The region's top utility vehicle maker, Mahindra & Mahindra, has a concept 3-wheeler that uses compressed gaseous hydrogen and is studying the feasibility of hydrogen internal combustion engines and fuel cells with Shell.

Reva Electric Car Co. recently received $20m in venture capital funding and is doubling output this year to 6,000 units, of which half will be exported. Deputy chairman Chetan Maini said, $quot;Our growth is a combination of greater consumer interest and stricter government regulations overseas.$quot;

Progress of this type in the country may be delayed slightly by legislation and a lack of government policy and incentives, though analysts are thought to expect vehicle manufacturers not to be deterred.

V G Ramakrishnan, director of Frost & Sullivan's automotive practice, supported this as he commented, $quot;These firms have global ambitions, and are able to invest big and are willing to partner firms for technology.$quot;