In a joint project with University of Hoehenheim, Germany and Council for Scientific and Industrial research (CSIR), India, DaimlerChrysler has initiated a sustainability study of the usage of bio-diesel, derived from Jatropha vegetable oil, as an automotive fuel.

The car major has invested INR32.5 million and assumed funding, project organisation and fleet testing responsibilities. Currently the project is in the fleet testing stage where the first batch of bio-diesel is being test run in two Mercedes C-Class cars in a 5,000km route across India.

Flagging off from DaimlerChrysler India‘s plant in Pune on 5th April 2004, the cars have crossed the hilly Western Ghats, the coastal South Indian region, through to the hot arid arid Rajasthan and finally will arrive in New Delhi on the 7th of May.

Analysis of the test run will be revealed only by the end of May but after 3,000 km driven to Hyderabad, the cars have “performed well”, according to Hans-Michael Huber, CEO DaimlerChrysler India. The fuel efficiency recorded comparable performance to petroleum diesel while particulate matter emissions were just one-third. The C-Class cars needed minor modifications to plastic and rubber parts and hoses.

The 30-hectare pilot Jatropha plantations are in wastelands of Orissa and Gujarat. DaimlerChrysler has said that this project is purely a corporate social responsibility and not an exclusive technology being developed for competitive advantage.

Deepesh Rathore/Tilak Swarup