The Government Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari, has strongly supported the use of flex-fuel engines in Indian automobiles and motorcycles. The transport minister recently said at an industry gathering that he has issued advice to all carmakers to include flex-fuel engines in their vehicles.
- Automakers have been granted six months to introduce flex-fuel engines.
- It will be a difficult task for automakers to reach the deadline.
- Currently, E10 gasoline is available across 80% of the country.
Automobile manufacturers have made a recommendation for the use of flex-fuel engines.
The government is considering drafting order in the next six months to allow for the introduction of flex-fuel engines in India, as we reported in September. Gadkari has now stated that he recently signed a file on flex-fuel engines, mandating automakers to design engines that can run on 100% ethanol or 100% gasoline.
“I signed a paper on flex-fuel engines yesterday,” stated the transport minister, “to advise carmakers to produce flex-fuel engines.” Carmakers have been granted a six-month window to implement this technology. He further said, “We’ve ordered them (carmakers) 6 months to advance flex-fuel engines in automobiles that really can run on a wide range of pollutants.”
What exactly are flex-fuel engines and how do they operate?
A flex-fuel engine is a type of internal combustion engine that can run on multiple types of fuel as well as a mixture of them. Typically, a combination of petrol and ethanol or methanol is used, and the engine is capable of automatically changing for any ratio thanks to improvements such as a fuel composition sensor and proper ECU programming.
Flex-fuel engines, which can run on either 100 percent fuel or ethanol, are now popular in countries such as Brazil, the United States, and Canada.
Flex-fuel vehicles’ possibilities in India
Despite the fact that the government has issued advice, there is no certainty that automakers will reach the deadline. Maruti Suzuki has previously stated that they are looking to build flex-fuel vehicles for India, albeit the business has not given a specific timeframe for this to happen. “We began investigating this and it takes time,” said Kenichi Ayukawa, managing director and CEO of Maruti Suzuki India Ltd.
However, it’s worth noting that Gadkari himself stated at the event that domestic two-wheeler maker TVS already has a motorcycle in its portfolio that is powered by a flex-fuel engine. In 2019, TVS introduced a variant of the Apache RTR 200 that was 100 percent ethanol-powered.
Ethanol-based fuel is available in India.
The administration pushed up the deadline for implementing E20 fuel to 2023 earlier this year. E20 is essentially gasoline that has been combined with 20% ethanol. For context, E10 fuel is currently available in 80% of the country, with pan-India coverage planned by next year. The ultimate goal is to have pure ethanol (E100) that can be used in flex-fuel automobiles.
Creating a supply chain to switch all gasoline vehicles to flex technology, on the other hand, will be a difficult task. Furthermore, testing, calibrating, and homologating vehicles for road use would be a massive task for automakers, who are already struggling to meet forthcoming emission rules such as CAFE 2 and RDE.