Blue Energy Motors bets on Indian LNG-fuelled trucking: interview
The company believes the Indian market offers huge potential for heavy-duty long-haul transportation and is ready for a green trucking revolution. [Image credit: Blue Energy Motors]By Shardul Sharma
Blue Energy Motors, an Indian automotive company, recently unveiled the country's first LNG-powered truck. The 5528 4x2 55-ton truck is equipped with an FPT Industrial multipoint stoichiometric combustion engine and ensures fuel efficiency and reduced noise levels compared to diesel engines. The company believes the Indian market offers huge potential for heavy-duty long-haul transportation and is ready for a green trucking revolution.
“LNG is regarded as a clean and cost-effective fuel for big commercial vehicles. With LNG, there is potential for significant fuel cost savings as well as reduced environmental impact,” says Anirudh Bhuwalka, CEO, Blue Energy Motors. “Consistent with our commitment at COPs, the present government is focused on decreasing the country's carbon footprint. There is a strong emphasis on the building of LNG infrastructure in the country. Hence, LNG trucks have huge potential for heavy-duty long-haul transportation and are a step toward India leading the green trucking revolution.”
The 5528 4x2 truck boasts of power of 280hp and torque of 1000Nm, and is one of the most powerful natural gas trucks available in India. One standout feature of the 5528 4x2 truck is its 990-liter fuel tank, which provides a range of up to 1400 km on a single fill. This feature addresses concerns related to range anxiety and, combined with the upcoming LNG dispensing network, ensures sufficient coverage along key routes without the need for frequent refilling.
BE 5528 4x2 is a fully connected truck as it comes with telematics technology that maximises operational efficiency and productivity. It provides insights into vehicle health and performance by deploying IoT, machine learning and artificial intelligence. The company is eyeing customers in a variety of industries.
“The primary target market for Blue Energy Motors' LNG truck includes large fleet operators serving sectors such as steel, cement, oil and gas, ports, and container transportation, particularly for heavy-duty long-haul applications,” Bhuwalka says.
By utilising LNG as a cleaner alternative to diesel, Blue Energy Motors' trucks reduce CO2 emissions by up to 30% and noise pollution by up to 30%. They help cut carbon monoxide emissions by up to 70%, sulphur oxide by up to 100%, nitrogen oxide by up to 59%, and particulate matter by up to 91%.
Partnership with FPT Industrial
Blue Energy Motors recently rolled out its 100th LNG truck from its manufacturing facility in Pune in western India. The company has a 10,000-truck installed capacity that can be expanded further as the market develops and demand increases.
A key contributor to the success of the Blue Energy Motors LNG truck project has been FPT Industrial, the global powertrain brand of the Italian Iveco Group. Through their partnership, Blue Energy Motors has harnessed FPT Industrial's expertise and innovation in engine technology. Iveco is a leading developer of LNG and compressed natural gas (CNG) technologies for commercial vehicles.
“Through this partnership with FPT Industrial, Blue Energy Motors has developed a world class LNG engine technology especially designed and developed to suit Indian duty cycle,” Bhuwalka says.
FPT Industrial has also acquired a minority stake in the company and will strengthen the LNG trucks’ application. The companies will also jointly develop the next-generation heavy-duty electric (BEV) truck platform for the Indian market.
Expanding LNG-fuelling infrastructure in India
The Indian government is aiming to increase the share of gas in the country’s energy mix to 15% by 2030 from the current 6-7% and sees the transportation sector as a major demand driver. It has on many occasions said that LNG has now emerged as one of the feasible alternate economical and environment-friendly fossil fuels for medium and heavy-duty vehicles.
The government expects India to have 1,000 LNG stations in the next few years. These stations are expected to come up on major national highways. In November 2020, the then Indian oil and gas minister, Dharmendra Pradhan, said that LNG as heavy vehicle fuel can provide around 20-25mn m3/day of new gas demand by 2035 and will play an important role in boosting gas demand.
“LNG is the finest alternative fuel for reducing CO2 emissions at a time when the entire world is looking to India to meet its climate change targets,” says Bhuwalka. “It solves all key issues in terms of range, cost, and technology, and offers game-changing cost savings while reducing emissions in significant amounts. There are already a couple of pumps available for LNG. Also, more than 1,000 fuel stations are scheduled to open over the next five years.”
More products in the pipeline
BE 5528 4x2 truck is the first product from the stable of Blue Energy Motors. The company intends to offer a robust product pipeline to the market, including electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles.
“Blue Energy Motors is on a mission to create a clean technology alternative to decarbonise the environment by providing an immediate solution and breaking the barriers of economic returns. Thus, we are open to exploring all technologies that help decarbonise the environment depending on the technology maturity and industry readiness,” says Bhuwalka.