NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Two auto start-ups in India plan to build their electric vehicle prototypes within a year in an effort to fight air pollution that has plagued the South Asian nation, industry executives said on Friday.

A woman cycles by a packed air pollution monitoring station in New Delhi, India November 23, 2017. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

The so-called green platform venture, backed by Ford Motor Company (F.N), Swedish electric car maker Wabco (WBCa.ST) and Tata Motors (TAMO.NS), is aiming to build electric small commercial vans within three to four years, with local production of the vehicles to follow, Tata Motors Chief Executive Guenter Butschek told Reuters.

Electric vehicles will enable people to move around without using the stress on their bodies of breathing heavily, especially in a city like Delhi, Butschek said.

“The potential of India to be a leader in the EV market in the region, and perhaps even globally, is huge,” Butschek said on the sidelines of an energy and environment event in New Delhi, adding that more partnerships were in the pipeline.

Butschek, whose company makes several brands of vehicles including Tata Motors sedans and buses, earlier told the event that Ford would also invest in LEVC.

Electricity is often produced from coal, and air pollution is linked to firecrackers, stubble burning and vehicles in India.

The capital Delhi issued a “gas strongly recommended” warning on Tuesday and said that air quality in the city for a second straight day was likely to exceed the “hazardous” level on Wednesday.

LEVC, which is headed by India’s former minister of road transport, Raman Kumar, and UAE-based electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer Autoliv (ALV.N), would import some of the EV components for the small, medium and commercial vehicles, Kumar said.

IndiGo, India’s largest airline by market share, is part of the LEVC group.

Wabco, a Swedish company, is also one of the participants of a government-led venture, which is in discussions with banks and other lenders to secure a loan of $150 million to develop self-driving buses in the country, Wabco’s Asia Managing Director, Ramanujan Babu told Reuters.