Sustainability takes the front seat as Ashok Leyland and RIL may embrace a partnership

Two of India’s biggest companies – Reliance Industries Ltd. and Ashok Leyland – are in advanced talks for a partnership that will initiate the development and supply chain of hydrogen-powered engines in trucks, said two people aware of the development.

RIL has contracted 45,000 trucks from Leyland, which will be retrofit with fuel-cell engines, to ferry refined products and other marketing goods. Once the ‘engine makeover’ is complete, the said trucks will be able to run on green hydrogen instead of diesel.

“RIL has reached out to Ashok Leyland for the development of these engines. The plan is to use these engines for the fleet of trucks RIL uses and, of course, going forward expand this to the larger automotive market,” said a source.

For the backdrop, starting 2025, Reliance is planning to produce green hydrogen at its Jamnagar refinery facility, and will further expand the supply of hydrogen to the larger automotive market, including for buses and cabs, as the demand increases.

Details of the structure of the partnership, potential equity contribution and capex are being finalised between RIL and Leyland, the people said.

RIL already has a working relationship with Leyland wherein the truck maker trains drivers for RIL’s supply chain segment. RIL has three driver training schools in Gujarat. Leyland is RIL’s key vendor when it comes to truck supplies.

Green hydrogen is the cleanest form of fuel when produced through renewable sources of energy, and as its popularity increases, RIL is looking forward to be one of the first companies to take advantage of it. This August, at RIL’s AGM, Ambani had unveiled his plan to shift to green hydrogen with an aim to start the transition by 2025. “Reliance is not new to hydrogen. We are one of the largest producers of grey hydrogen globally… We aim to progressively commence transition from grey hydrogen to green hydrogen by 2025, after proving our cost and performance targets,” Ambani said.

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