Union minister Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday launched Japanese car maker Toyota’s first-of-its-kind pilot project on flex fuel-strong hybrid electric vehicle (FFV-SHEV) that can run on 100 per cent ethanol.
During the launch, the Toyota Corolla Altis FFV-SHEV, which has been imported from Toyota Brazil for the pilot project, was unveiled. Speaking on the occasion, Union Road Transport minister Nitin Gadkari said pollution is a big concern in India and the transport sector is contributing to pollution. “Therefore, there is a need to encourage use of electric vehicles and vehicles that run on biofuels like ethanol and methanol,” he added.
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Besides Gadkari, union ministers Mahendra Nath Pandey, Bhupinder Yadav and senior officials of Toyota Kirloskar Motor were present at the event. In Brazil, flex fuel-strong hybrid electric vehicle technology has been introduced by Toyota Brazil. An FFV-SHEV has a flex-fuel engine and an electric powertrain, thus providing dual benefit of higher ethanol use and greater fuel efficiency, as it can run for a significant time period on its EV mode, wherein the engine is shut off.
Flex-fuel compatible cars can run on more than one type of fuel and also a mixture. Typically, a blend of petrol and ethanol or methanol is used. FFVs provide an opportunity of greater substitution of petrol by ethanol as it is capable of using any of the higher blends of ethanol mix from 20 per cent up to 100 per cent. Flex-fuel vehicles are available in Brazil, the USA and Canada. Ethanol is a major alternate fuel used globally and Brazil has the highest average blending of 48 per cent. Toyota Corolla Altis FFV-SHEV will be able to run on fuel that has ethanol blending between 20 and up to 100 per cent.
The government is working to encourage the use of green and alternative fuels. Last year, the government issued an advisory to carmakers to introduce flexible-fuel engines in vehicles. In March this year, Gadkari had launched India’s first green hydrogen-based advanced fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV), Toyota Mirai, and had said this is the first-of-its-kind project in India that aims to create an ecosystem for such vehicles in the country. Toyota’s Kirloskar’s vice chairman Vikram Kirloskar said India has achieved 10 per cent ethanol blending in the shortest time and will achieve 20 per cent by 2025.
Union environment minister Bhupendra Yadav said the next 40 days will be the most difficult time for Delhi because of stubble burnings in neighbouring states. “We can manage 24 lakh tonnes of stubble this year by mechanisation,” Yadav added. Gadkari further said a 6 to 8 per cent increase in agricultural growth rate is necessary for Aatmanirbhar Bharat. He emphasized on the importance of converting surplus foodgrain and sugar into ethanol for boosting the rural economy. Encouraging ‘Anndatas’ to become ‘Urjadatas’, Gadkari said the success of this pilot project will create an ecosystem of electric vehicles and make New India, a global leader in manufacturing these electric vehicles.