With Toyota Innova HyCross, ‘Flex fuel’ technology enters India. What is it all about?


The Toyota Innova has achieved the distinction of being the first car in both the country and the world to feature a flex-fuel engine capable of running entirely on ethanol. This development has sparked renewed discussions about the potential of this environmentally friendly and efficient fuel and powertrain technology. Here is a comprehensive overview about the technology.

Flex fuel, commonly referred to as flexible fuel, stands as an alternative fuel blend comprising gasoline and methanol or ethanol. Vehicles categorized as flex-fuel possess internal combustion engines intentionally built to function with multiple fuel variations. These engines demonstrate the capacity to operate using either gasoline or ethanol or methanol.

This technology is implemented in India, where flex-fuel engines are tailored to operate on both petrol and ethanol. The United States and Brazil also prioritize flex-fuel technology. These flex-fuel vehicles closely resemble their gasoline-only counterparts, requiring only minor adjustments to the engine and fuel system.

Flex-fuel offers multiple advantages. For drivers, this blend of petrol and ethanol is cost-effective compared to pure petrol, delivering immediate savings. In nations like India, increased ethanol production from sources like corn and sugarcane supports the economy by reducing crude oil imports, benefiting local farmers. Furthermore, for the planet, ethanol is a cleaner alternative to traditional petrol, leading to reduced emissions and a greener environment when used in vehicles.

Despite its economic and environmental benefits, flex-fuel comes with notable drawbacks. Firstly, the inclusion of agriculture-derived ethanol in the blend introduces impurities that pose a risk of engine damage. Ethanol’s propensity to absorb contaminants can lead to corrosion and harm to engine components.

Additionally, fuel efficiency is a significant concern for vehicle owners. Ethanol-blended petrol, or flex fuel, is known to yield lower mileage compared to pure petrol, ultimately raising the long-term cost of vehicle ownership.

Furthermore, the awareness and infrastructure required to support the flex fuel ecosystem in India remain insufficient. Consequently, procuring flex fuel for flex-fuel vehicle owners remains a challenging endeavor



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Updated: 29 Aug 2023, 04:10 PM IST


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