India has got its first flex-fuel car that can run on 100 per cent ethanol in line with the government’s increasing thrust on promoting alternative fuel and reducing dependence on import of oil.
Union ministers, Nitin Gadkari, Bhupendra Yadav and Mahendra Nath Pandey, flagged off the first flex fuel-strong hybrid electric vehicle (FFV-SHEV) on Tuesday (11 October).
The Corolla Altis FFV-SHEV manufactured by automobile major Toyota has a flex-fuel engine and an electric powertrain.
It provides the dual benefit of higher ethanol use and greater fuel efficiency as it can run for a significant time on its EV mode, when the engine is shut off. The car can run on petrol that has ethanol blending between 20 per cent and 100 per cent.
The vehicle was launched as a pilot project to assess the BS-VI compliant FFV-SHEV technology in India; its effectiveness in domestic conditions in reducing carbon emission, which will be shared with the Indian Institute of Science; and for promoting ethanol as a vehicle fuel.
In a series of tweets, Gadkari said, “Today our dream has come true! Launched India’s first Flexi-Fuel Strong Hybrid Electric Vehicle (FFV-SHEV) which would run on 100% petrol as well as 20 to 100% blended ethanol and electric powertrain... This is an important step towards realising the dream of the Prime Minister for ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’.
“Encouraging our ‘Annadatas’ to become ‘Urjadatas’, the success of this pilot project will create an ecosystem of electric vehicles and make NewIndia, a global leader in the manufacture of these electric vehicles.”
The vehicle has been imported from Brazil for research and development purpose. The vehicle will be driven in different parts of the country to assess its performance and the study period would be for more than a year, sources said.
Speaking at the event, Gadkari said pollution is a big concern in India and the transport sector is a major contributor.
“Therefore, there is a need to encourage use of electric vehicles and vehicles that run on biofuels like ethanol and methanol. This will also increase the income of our farmers. We want to reduce our import and dependence on petrol and diesel,” he added.
In Brazil, which is the biggest sugarcane producer and ethanol, nearly 80 per cent cars are on flex-fuel.
The government is also promoting use of flex-fuel vehicles and has notified the standards for E95, E90, E85 engines depending on the percentage of petrol as against the percentage of ethanol mix.
Vikram Kirloskar, vice-president of Toyota Kirloskar, said the road transport sector being one of the biggest fossil fuel users, needs rapid transition towards clean and renewable energy sources.
Arun Kumar Das is a senior journalist covering railways. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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