- Maruti is stepping into developing flex-fuel vehicles in the near future.
- Ethanol flex-fuel would be cheaper than petrol too.
- Flex-fuel vehicles will undergo engine modifications that will result in higher purchase cost of the vehicles.
One of India’s largest automobile manufacturers, Maruti Suzuki India Limited, revealed its plans for alternatively powered vehicles. The manufacturer said that it will not launch an electric car in the Indian market before 2025 due to the current state of the EV market in the country.
However, Maruti is working on flex-fuel vehicle development and is also focussing on launching a new CNG product for the Indian market.
Kenichi Ayukawa, managing director and CEO, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd., at the company’s results call earlier today, commented, “We are preparing EVs and also pursuing ethanol, the government has announced flex-fuel and so we are developing those kinds of vehicles for the future.” He also added, “We just started studying this and it takes time.”
What is a flex-fuel engine?
A ‘flex-fuel engine’ is an internal combustion engine that runs on more than one fuel type and also on a mixture. Usually, a blend of petrol and ethanol or methanol is used for this. The engine can automatically adjust for any ratio, with modifications like a fuel composition sensor and ECU programming. While the standard petrol engines can run only a small amount of ethanol blend in petrol, the flex-fuel engines can run on up to 100% ethanol too. The flex-fuel engines can run on a combination of ethanol and petrol.
Even though flex-fuel could be more affordable than petrol, the cost of purchase of such a vehicle might be higher than a petrol one. Flex-fuel vehicles are already available in countries such as Brazil, USA and Canada.
In recent times, flex-fuel engines are promoted in the Indian auto sector by Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister of Roads Transport and Highways in India. The government has been increasing the ethanol blend in petrol and will offer waiver to the emission norms of flex-fuel engines as they will not be BS6 compliant.
Ethanol is being promoted in the country to reduce dependency on crude oil and crude oil import bills.
The government has also given directions and permissions to set up 100% ethanol fuel pumps in the country. In addition, there may also be mandatory rules to introduce ethanol-powered vehicles along with flex-fuel engines in future.
RC Bhargava, Chairman, Maruti Suzuki did not give any specific timeline for the unveiling of flex fuelled vehicles. Though, he mentioned their parent company, Suzuki, Japan will have to decide on the production of electric vehicles for India.