JCB Introduces Hydrogen-Powered Construction Equipment in India

JCB India is investing £100 million in developing super-efficient hydrogen engines for construction equipment, aiming to save 16 billion litres of fuel compared to diesel-powered machines

JCB’s ambitious £100 million project, focused on creating super-efficient hydrogen engines, made its Indian debut in the presence of Nitin Gadkari.

JCB India’s CEO and MD, Deepak Shetty, stated.  “It is very fitting that this JCB 3DX backhoe loader, powered by a hydrogen combustion engine, is being unveiled in India just as COP28, the UN Climate Change Conference, is getting underway in Dubai, UAE. As the world assesses its collective progress towards achieving its climate goals, JCB is showing the world that it has a practical and affordable technology already in place to decarbonise construction, here in India and across the world. We are proud that India should be the first nation in the world to show this prototype backhoe loader machine in public.”

According to the company, JCB's current drive to reduce fuel consumption means that its diesel-powered machines use 50 per cent less fuel today than those manufactured more than a decade ago. This has saved 16 billion litres of fuel, equivalent to 53 million metric tonnes of CO2.

JCB Chairman Lord Bamford added, “Fossil fuels are not the future. The unique combustion properties of hydrogen enable the hydrogen engine to deliver the same power, the same torque, and the same efficiency that powers JCB machines today, but in a zero-carbon way. Hydrogen-combustion engines also offer other significant benefits. By leveraging diesel engine technology and components, they do not require rare earth elements and critically, combustion technology is already well-proven on construction equipment. It is a technology that is cost-effective, robust, reliable and well known not just in the construction sector but across the whole world.”

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.

Lord Bamford emphasised that considering India's abundant solar and water resources, hydrogen could be essential to the country's transition to a net-zero future. Hydrogen is a clean, zero-carbon fuel that meets India's need for a mobile, fast-refuelling solution, which is critical for minimising downtime in the demanding earthmoving sector.

Shetty added, “It’s only a matter of time before hydrogen becomes readily available in India for a variety of applications. The transition from diesel to hydrogen will be much faster than we think, and JCB India will be ready. Our hydrogen combustion technology is already well-developed; many machines are currently under test, and JCB is the first construction equipment manufacturer to have unveiled working hydrogen combustion engines and prototype machines powered by such engines.”

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