Over the past few years, sustainable and eco-friendly options have gained prominence all over the world. Governments and automobile companies are striving hard to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and promote alternative fuels to reduce carbon emissions. In line with this global trend, India is also taking definitive steps towards adopting flexfuel technology in vehicles.
What are Flexfuel Vehicles?
A flexfuel vehicle or flexible-fuel vehicle (FFV) is an alternative fuel vehicle with an internal combustion engine designed to run on more than one fuel, usually gasoline blended with ethanol or methanol fuel. These vehicles have flexible-fuel engines that can accommodate multiple mixtures of fuels like gasoline and Ethanol seamlessly.
Advantages of Flexfuel Technology
– Reduced Emissions: Flexfuel vehicles emit lesser greenhouse gases as ethanol and methanol fuel have lower carbon content than gasoline. Their use leads to reduced emissions and a cleaner environment.
– Energy Security: India currently imports 85% of its crude oil requirements. Adoption of flexfuel vehicles will reduce dependence on imported oil and provide energy security. Biofuels like ethanol can be domestically produced from sugarcane and other crops.
– Cost Savings: With increasing crude oil prices in the international markets, using more ethanol blended fuel can significantly bring down fuel costs for flexfuel vehicle owners.
– Farmers Benefit: Large-scale production and use of ethanol will benefit sugarcane farmers and boost the agricultural economy. It will open up new markets and income opportunities for farmers.
Introduction of Flexfuel Vehicles in India
Realizing these benefits, the Government of India has been actively working to introduce India Flexfuel Cars in India in a phased manner. Some key developments are:
– Ethanol Blended Petrol Program: Under this program, Oil Marketing Companies are selling petrol blended with up to 10% ethanol (E10) across the country since 2018. E20 blending has also begun in select locations.
– Notification of Flexfuel Standards: In 2019, Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) published the Indian Drive Cycle and Flexfuel Vehicle Standards. This paved the way for manufacturing FFVs meeting Indian conditions.
– Flex-fuel Models Launched: In 2020, Mahindra & Mahindra launched the Scorpio Flexfuel and in 2021, Renault launched the Kapitvan Flexi fuel. Both these SUVs can run on any blend of gasoline and ethanol up to 85%.
– Focus on Northeast and Southern States: States like Assam, Odisha which have surplus molasses and sugarcane are being primed as focus regions for flexfuel uptake. Fleets of flex-fuel taxis and state transport buses are being introduced.
Challenges in Adoption of Flexfuel Technology
While the flexfuel technology shows promise, certain challenges still remain in its widespread adoption in India:
Higher Initial Cost: The flex-fuel technology for vehicles requires additional components like longer fuel hoses, hardened rubber lines, more corrosion-proof materials etc. which increases costs.
Limited Refueling Stations: As of now, availability of E20/E85 fuel is limited to few locations. More ethanol pumping stations are needed across India for convenience of owners.
Consumer Awareness: Mass awareness about benefits of flexfuel vehicles and use of higher ethanol blends is still inadequate among general public.
Supply Chain Issues: Meeting the targets of 20% ethanol blending by 2025 would require enhanced sugarcane/molasses production facilities and logistics.
Phasing out Legacy Vehicles: Older vehicle models without flex-fuel capability comprise a major chunk of India’s passenger vehicle fleet which will take time to replace.
Outlook and Way Forward
While there are initial challenges, India’s growing ethanol production capacity and the government’s firm commitment towards cleaner fuels indicates flexfuel vehicles have a bright future. With coordinated efforts from all stakeholders, these issues can be overcome. Some key steps that need to be taken are:
– Financial Incentives: Lower GST rates and purchase subsidies for FFVs can boost demand and mass adoption.
– Expanding Infrastructure: Aggressive targets for setting up more ethanol distribution pumps nationwide in the coming years.
– Technology Partnerships: Auto companies need support through FDI and technical tie-ups for affordable flexfuel technology transfers.
– Awareness Campaigns: Wide publicity campaigns to create awareness among citizens regarding flex-fuel vehicles and benefits of using ethanol blends.
– Policy Push: Stricter fuel efficiency and emission norms along with scrappage schemes for older ICE vehicles will accelerate the transition.
1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it