More alternate energy vehicles in future: General Motors chief


New Delhi : Current environmental and price concerns will lead to more alternate energy vehicles coming into the market, General Motors (GM) chief operating officer Fritz Henderson said here Thursday.

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“In the last 100 years, the dependence of the industry on petrol has not changed. But oil alone will not be able to meet the world’s energy needs,” he said in his address at the annual convention of the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers.

“This coupled with global warming and high fuel prices will lead to a structural change in the kind of fuel we use,” added Henderson.

He said over the next few years, there will be a wide array of technologies that will coexist with the convention fuel engine. “And then over the years, the target will be to displace petroleum by broader energy diversity,” he said.

The GM top honcho said six hybrid vehicles were already on US roads, which will go up to 10 by the end of this year. The company plans to introduce 20 news models by 2010.

Talking about biofuels, Henderson described ethanol as the short-term answer for the world energy crisis, as it was easily produced and the most inexpensive alternate technology.

Unlike the US, he said jatropha was the ideal plant to manufacture ethanol in India, and called for its mass production.

“Jatropha provides 10 times more fuel per hectare compared to corn, which is the source for US ethanol. Since it is not a food crop, using it to make ethanol does not pose a threat to world food security,” Henderson said.

On GM’s stand on electric vehicles, Henderson said the company would be ready with the Chevrolet Volt by 2010-end and will be introducing it in the Asia-Pacific soon after.

India can play a particularly important role in adoption in alternate fuel. He hailed the Indian government for pushing the CNG technology in the Indian capital.

“I salute the Indian government for their vision and producing this technology which is much efficient and less polluting,” he said.

He said by 2030, the world will need 70 percent more energy as compared to just five years ago.

“We are in the fourth generation of our fuel cell vehicle technology – the first of which was introduced in 2001. Right now, Chevy Sequel is on the road employing this technology,” he said.

Also to roll out soon is the Chevy Equinox, a SUV.

Henderson said that in January 2008, GM distributed 100 test vehicles all over the world including the Asia pacific.

Similarly championing fuel cell technology, Rainer Schmückle, Mercedez Benz chief operational officer said while fuel cell technology is much more efficient with zero emission, the costs involved are much higher than a traditional combustion fuel engine.

“But if the volumes come in, prices can go down. It is required for manufacturers to collaborate, develop and produce technology collectively to bring down the cost,” he said.