India launches world’s first hybrid ethanol-electric car


India has unveiled the world’s first hybrid ethanol-electric car. The prototype – BS6 Stage II Electrified Flex Fuel Car – developed by Toyota on the Innova Hycross platform is powered by ethanol, which is produced through the fermentation of plant material and is a cleaner alternative as compared to petrol.

Toyota Motor’s flex-fuel ethanol-powered Innova HyCross car was launched in India by Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari on August 29. The electrified flex-fuel Innova HyCross can also operate as an electric car. This prototype of the electrified Innova HyCross flex-fuel is in compliance with the latest emission standards. Flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) have an internal combustion engine and are capable of operating on petrol and any blend of petrol and ethanol. Unlike the usual 83% mix, this car runs on 100 percent ethanol.

“Ethanol being an indigenous, eco-friendly, and renewable fuel holds promising prospects for India. The emphasis of the Modi government on ethanol aligns with objectives of attaining energy self-sufficiency, doubling farmers’ income, transitioning them to Urjadata while continuing to support them as Annadata, and positively impacting the environment. Toyota is fervently transitioning to cleaner energy solutions. Their strong commitment to environmental conservation is evident in their advanced technologies, such as Hydrogen Vehicles and Electrified Flex Fuel Vehicles,” Gadkari posted on the social media platform ‘X’.

Ethanol is made by the fermentation of sugar. In India, it is largely derived while extracting sugar from sugarcane. However, other organic matter like food grains can also be used for its production. The government of India has launched the Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme to mix this biofuel with petrol to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels. India has set a target of 20 percent ethanol blending with petrol by 2025.

Gadkari had launched Toyota’s first-of-its-kind pilot project on Flexi-Fuel Strong Hybrid Electric Vehicles (FFV-SHEV) in India that would run on 100% petrol as well as 20% to 100% blended ethanol and electric power in October 2022. The minister said the success of this pilot project will create an ecosystem for electric vehicles and make India, a global leader in the manufacture of these electric vehicles. He said such technologies are innovative, revolutionary, sustainable, cost-effective, and energy-efficient and will transform the transportation sector in New India.

“Biofuels can save India the valuable foreign exchange that is being spent on the import of petroleum. If we want to become Atamnirbhar (self-reliant) we have to bring this oil import to zero. At present, it is ₹16 lakh crore. This is a big loss to the economy,” Gadkari said at the Mint Sustainability Summit last week.

“Vehicles running on alternate and greener fuels are necessary for sustainable development. “We have taken a lot of (sustainability) initiatives but we need to take more because pollution is a problem. Ecology and the environment are very important. We need to reduce air and water pollution. We have to improve the quality of water in our rivers. This is a big challenge. We need to protect our ecology and environment,” he said.


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