JCB's ambitious £100 million project, focused on creating super-efficient hydrogen engines, made its Indian debut in the presence of Nitin Gadkari, the Hon’ble Minister for Road Transport and Highways. The unveiling marked the first public appearance of a JCB backhoe loader powered by a purpose-engineered hydrogen combustion engine, showcasing JCB's commitment to meeting carbon emissions reduction targets and driving decarbonisation in the Indian construction sector.
The debut of the hydrogen-powered JCB 3DX backhoe loader coincides with COP28, the UN Climate Change Conference in Dubai, emphasizing JCB's role in providing practical and affordable technology for global decarbonisation.
JCB India’s CEO and Managing Director, Deepak Shetty, expressed pride in unveiling the prototype in India, highlighting the nation's efforts to make hydrogen the zero-carbon fuel of the future through initiatives like the National Hydrogen Mission. He credited JCB Chairman Lord Bamford's visionary leadership for driving the development of hydrogen-powered machines.
A dedicated team of 150 JCB engineers is working on the project, producing over 75 prototypes at JCB’s UK engine plant. Already, prototype JCB hydrogen engines are powering backhoe loaders and Loadall telescopic handler machines. JCB UK has also introduced a mobile refuelling bowser designed and built in-house to efficiently supply hydrogen to the machines.
Lord Bamford emphasized that hydrogen could play a pivotal role in India's net-zero future, given the country's abundant sun and water resources. Hydrogen offers a clean, zero-carbon fuel that aligns with India's need for a fast-refuelling, mobile solution, crucial for minimizing downtime in the demanding earthmoving sector.
Highlighting the benefits of hydrogen combustion engines, Lord Bamford stated they deliver the same power, torque, and efficiency as traditional diesel engines but in a zero-carbon manner. Additionally, hydrogen combustion engines leverage proven diesel engine technology without relying on rare earth elements.
JCB's commitment to reducing fuel consumption has already resulted in diesel-powered machines using 50% less fuel on average than those manufactured over a decade ago, saving 16 billion litres of fuel and reducing CO2 emissions by 53 million tonnes.
Shetty concluded by expressing confidence in the rapid adoption of hydrogen in India, citing ongoing tests and JCB's position as the first construction equipment manufacturer to unveil working hydrogen combustion engines and prototype machines powered by such engines.