The rise in price of the major automobile fuels, namely, the petroleum products petrol and diesel, has been one of the major global problems in the recent times. The price rise is even linked to the global economic meltdown. This is an ideal time to shift focus to alternative fuels for automobiles. There are various kinds of automobile fuels. The truth is that the fields of various alternative fuels have not witnessed substantial, both qualitative and quantitative, research. Perhaps, the pollution caused by the above-mentioned fuels and the fluctuating price of these fuels are the ideal condition to do some substantial research on the alternative avenues.The most widely used alternative fuel for automobiles is liquid petroleum gas containing mainly propane. It is not as costly as diesel and petroleum. At the same time, it does not cause as much pollution as the other two. Ethanol and methanol can also be used as effective fuels and these cause low levels of environment pollution.Bio diesel is another kind of alternative fuels for automobiles. It can be produced from certain types of vegetables and plants. Since these have almost all the characteristics of diesel, it can be used in all diesel vehicles without any other additional components or converting equipment. Also, the emission from the vehicle when using bio diesel contains fewer toxic substances than that when using actual diesel. The plants from which bio diesel can be extracted can be cultivated in large scale without much expense.Electricity is another alternative fuel for automobiles. Many functional prototypes of various electrical vehicles have been developed. But the lack of pulling power and the actual shortage of electricity are the constraints for its wide spread use. Probably, electric fuels are the best in terms of reducing environmental and sound pollution levels. The advancement in manufacture of various kinds of batteries has helped the development of vehicles that run on electric fuels.Scientists and researchers are increasingly seeking new avenues of alternate fuels for automobiles. Hydrogen gas is one of the possible breakthrough-providing fuels in this arena. Research has been going on regarding the combustion mechanism of the gas and various methods that can be used to store the hydrogen gas in a convenient form inside a vehicle. The use of solar energy as an automobile fuel has also been explored. Right now, solar energy is used in homes for various electrical purposes. The efforts are ongoing for translating the home-use mechanism to automobile sector. The biggest problem it has is the requirement of changing the existing mechanical functioning system of automobiles to accommodate the solar fuel. Till a mechanism will be introduced for bypassing this technological bottleneck, chances of using solar energy as automobile fuel do not appear very sunny.
India has a huge automobile industry. The country ranks 4thin Asia and 9th in the world as the world’s largest automobile Industry. India has an annual production of approximately about 2.3 million units.Presently, India is the world’s largest manufacturer of tractors, second-largest manufacturer of two-wheelers, and fifth-largest manufacturer of commercial vehicles.The automobile industry in India gained momentum after the liberalization in 1991. The industry has continued to grow consistently and is increasingly becoming competent in the global market. In the recent past, India has seen an upsurge in the automobile industry thanks to its relaxed restriction on the investment policies in the sector. India’s overall economic growth has also played a significant role in attracting foreign investors in India to invest in the automobile sector of the country.The automobile sector in India has displayed great advances in relation to the utilization of new technologies and being flexible in the wake of the changing business scenario.Both the central government of India and its state governments have taken several measures to draw investments in the sector and further accelerate the growth of the industry in the country. The government has liberalized the norms for foreign investment in the sector. Presently the government permits 100% direct foreign investment in the sector.The government has also undertaken several policy measures and incentives to boost investment in the automobile sector of India. The most prominent policy is Auto Policy, which was drawn in 2000. This policy basically aims to establish a globally competitive automobile industry in India and contribute to the Indian economy.The important objectives of the Auto Policy are:1. Making India a global source for auto components
2. Aiding the development of vehicles that can be driven by alternative energy sources
3. Developing domestic safety methods that are on par with international standards
4. Steering India’s software industry into the automobile technology
5. Making India an international hub for manufacturing small and cheap passenger cars
6. Being the global center for manufacturing two-wheelers
7. Ensuring a balanced transition to open trade at a minimal riskThus, this ambitious Auto Policy of India aims not only to make India grow in the sector but also attract huge investment in the country.The Department of Heavy Industry, which falls under the Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, is the leading agency responsible for promoting the growth and development of the automobile industry in India.The department assists the industry’s growth through policy initiatives, providing technological collaboration, upgrading, and R&D facilities to the automobile manufacturers.Also, the growth of Indian middle class and their increased purchasing power supported by strong macro-economic fundamentals have been instrumental in attracting major auto manufacturers in India. Several global players, including leading automobile manufacturers Suzuki and Honda, have invested heavily in India and have managed to tap the Indian market.All these factors and the initiatives of the government is an indication that the Indian automobile Industry has been emerging as a new sector that has unlimited potential for growth and has promise to offer valuable returns on investments. The automobile sector has not only been meeting the requirements of the domestic market but has been penetrating deep into the international market.