Indian automaker Tata Motors may have built the world's smallest roadworthy hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle.

The company known for the tiny Nano--as well as its stewardship of Jaguar Land Rover--unveiled a fuel-cell version of its Magic Iris microvan at AutoExpo India.

The Tata Magic Iris Ziva is based on a small commercial vehicle that--like the Nano--is just barely a step above a scooter or motorcycle.

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But whereas the regular Magic Iris is powered by a single-cylinder diesel engine, the Ziva has an air-cooled hydrogen fuel-cell stack.

The fuel-cell powertrain is rated at 5 kilowatts (6.7 horsepower) in normal operation, but has a maximum output of 9 kW (12 hp), along with 42 newton-meters (31 pound-feet) of torque, according to Indian Autos Blog.

That's more than the 11 hp of the diesel engine in the standard Magic Iris, so perhaps the Ziva can improve on its top speed of 34 mph.

Tata Magic Iris

Tata Magic Iris

With roll-up side windows and a spartan interior, the five-seat Magic Iris Ziva isn't exactly luxurious.

Yet--perhaps in a sign of the times--even a vehicle this basic has an 8.0-inch dashboard touchscreen, which includes navigation and infotainment features.

Tata previously showed a battery-electric version of the Magic Iris at AutoExpo India, and it has some previous experience with fuel cells, having developed a hydrogen-powered bus.

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While India has some of the world's worst air pollution, it has been relatively slow to adopt measures aimed at reducing vehicle emissions.

Last year, the government announced the FAME (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric vehicles) incentive program for hybrid and electric vehicles.

It includes subsidies for cars, scooters, and motorcycles, as well as some types of commercial vehicles.

Tata Magic Iris Electric

Tata Magic Iris Electric

This year, India's first ever national fuel-economy standards are also set to take effect.

The Corporate Average Fuel Consumption (CAFC) standards call for a 14-percent increase in average fuel efficiency between now and 2017.

That will be followed by a 38-percent increase in 2021 and 2022.

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The country's vehicle-emission limits today are several generations behind those in force for the European Union and North America.

But if hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles are to play a significant role in meeting these goals, India will need to create sufficient fueling infrastructure to support them.

Meanwhile, muse on the Magic Iris Ziva as you consider the emissions likely emitted by the standard version's single-cylinder diesel engine.


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