Toyota Motor has set yet another milestone in the realm of sustainable mobility by unveiling a prototype of the world’s first fully ethanol-powered car equipped with a flex-fuel engine.
As a country with the fastest-growing large economy, India is also experiencing a rapid rise in fossil fuel consumption and crude oil imports. This is largely due to the increasing mobility needs of the transport sector, which currently accounts for about 50% of oil demand. Unfortunately, higher fossil fuel consumption will lead to larger carbon emissions, which is a major concern. Therefore, it is imperative for us to rapidly shift away from fossil fuels with utmost urgency.
The good news is that India is well endowed with renewable energy, surplus sugar, food grains, and biomass, which offers huge possibilities for a transition to a cleaner energy future. The abundantly available sugarcane, excess food grains, and huge biomass waste can be used to produce ethanol that can substitute a significant amount of petrol used by vehicles in the shortest possible time.
To fully realize the available potential and to maximize the social benefits of ethanol, Flex Fuel Vehicle technologies, i.e., vehicles that can use higher blends of ethanol beyond 20% mix (E20), will be required. However, the challenge with these Flex Fuel Vehicles is the lower fuel efficiency of ethanol due to its lower energy density. Globally, to counter this challenge, Electrified Flex Fuel Vehicles are being introduced as an advanced green technology that has both a flex fuel engine and an electric powertrain.
The Electrified Flex Fuel Vehicle prototype unveiled on August 29, in an event attended by Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, is built on the popular MPV Innova Hycross. It is designed to be compatible with India’s higher emission norms, making it the world’s first Prototype of Bharat Stage 6 (Stage II) Electrified Flex Fuel Vehicle.
The Toyota Innova HyCross flex-fuel not only runs on alternative fuel but can also generate its electric power and operate in EV mode. This model is designed to operate exclusively on ethanol and will also incorporate a lithium-ion battery pack capable of providing sufficient power to operate in EV mode.
The Innova HyCross with flex-fuel technology is slightly different from the hybrid variant of the MPV in the Indian market. The Innova HyCross hybrid features a powerful 2.0-liter 4-cylinder petrol engine that produces 181 bhp and delivers an impressive fuel efficiency of 23.24 km. This engine is paired with an advanced e-CVT transmission for smooth and efficient performance on the road. Currently, there’s no confirmed release date for the production version of Innova HyCross flex-fuel.
Last year, the union minister launched a hydrogen-powered car, the Toyota Mirai EV, to promote alternative and green fuel energy. Operating solely on electricity generated from pure hydrogen, the Toyota Mirai FCEV is one of the first hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles in the world.
“It is indeed commendable to see that Toyota is making strong efforts for transition to cleaner energy options and for environment conservation with its multiple advanced technological capabilities like Hydrogen Vehicle, Electrified Flex Fuel Vehicle, and more. Today, we unveiled the Prototype of the World’s First BS 6 (Stage II), an Electrified Flex Fuel Vehicle of Toyota, aligning with the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan,’” Shri. Nitin Gadkari Ji, Hon’ble Union Minister, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Government of India, stated.