Mallawa Ventures, a Chicago-based early-stage technology and services company specialising in providing services and solutions in select segments, is proposing to establish a hydrogen fuel cell bus factory near Chennai as the public transportation segment in India is witnessing a shift towards alternative fuel-powered products.

It will set up a bus manufacturing factory and a hydrogen plant near Chennai. The proposed factory is expected to have a capacity of about 100 units a month. The company has planned a cumulative investment of about ₹8,000 crore over the next 8 years.

The US company’s EV journey started in 2016 with its foray into the electric two-wheeler segment.

“Very recently we were asked to participate in a tender with IIT in Tamil Nadu. This was when the idea to provide public transportation solution came up. Since we are already in the EV space, it didn’t take much time to prepare a road map for hydrogen fuel cell buses and quickly worked out partnerships and joint ventures to execute this. Otherwise, there were no plans to enter trucks and buses till 2028,” Raj Karan, President & CEO of Mallawa Ventures, said here.

It is in the process of identifying a site for the proposed factory near Chennai and plans to come out with its first pilot product in 9-12 months.

Mallawa Ventures has forged a partnership with a Texas-based company to set up a hydrogen plant near Chennai to meet the fuel requirements of its buses. It is expected to be ready in 18-24 months with a capacity of 60 metric tonnes. This unit is expected to entail an investment of ₹300-400 crore.

A hydrogen fuel generation plant produces hydrogen from LNG by SMR and also by Green Hydrogen generation (GHG) methods. The fuel is stored as LH2 or as gas. The fuel generated will be transported in specialised cylinders to the dispensing depots.

Three variants

The company’s hydrogen-powered 12-mtre buses will come in three variants of floor heights - 400mm, 650mm and 800mm - and offer a range of 350 km to 750 km (on a single charge) depending on application segments. These buses may be priced in the range of ₹1.85-2.3 crore and will offer products for both intra-city and inter-city applications. Refuelling time for these buses will be less than 10 mins.

“All these buses would be ‘Make in India’ buses and are fully air‐conditioned with high‐quality air suspension, smart motor, an intelligent battery and associated components that also are completely made in India. We will be rolling out hydrogen‐powered buses in India by mid‐2023,” said Karan.

The battery bank in these buses will have a minimum of 7800 cycles. Moreover, one charging station can charge 25 buses. One station will have a capacity of charging 52 buses/in 24 hours.

Karan said the company chose Chennai for the proposed venture due to its well-established automotive ecosystem, port connectivity, and availability of LNG among others.

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