The first fleet in the world of hydrogen fuelled 3-wheelers or rickshaws was launched inNew Delhi on Monday 9 January, 2012. It is complemented by a hydrogen refueling station established at Pragati Maidan, where the fleet will be operating.

The fleet of fifteen vehicles and the refueling station were established in the context of the DELHY-3W project that aimed to demonstrate hydrogen technologies developed by Indian partners for the Indian transport sector. The project took 3 years and cost slightly more than 1 million US$, with 0.5 million US$ of co-funding coming from the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) International Centre for Hydrogen Energy Technologies (UNIDO-ICHET) based in Istanbul, Turkey.

IIT Delhi coordinated the project and provided technical expertise to convert the internal combustion engines to run on hydrogen. Mahindra and Mahindra developed the vehicle with all necessary changes to the engines, safety systems, fuel tanks and fuel lines. Air Products USA acted as project partner and sponsor by providing the hydrogen refueling station and management and technical services. UNIDO India regional office facilitated the realization of the project. India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO) is hosting the project and helping disseminate Indian know-how. The Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has been closely following the project, while both the refueling facility & hydrogen storage tanks on vehicle have received all necessary permits and approvals from the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO).

Hydrogen holds great promise for a cleaner urban environment worldwide however the possible inclusion of hydrogen in the portfolio of alternative transport fuels in a country with the size and dynamism of India could create the right market conditions for mass production of hydrogen vehicles and refueling infrastructure, leading to comparable costs and reduced urban pollution in cities like New Delhi and other Asian metropolis that might implement such technologies.

The developing world has the potential to play a major role in the transition to a hydrogen-inclusive energy future.