Toyota has taken the wraps off the Innova HyCross flex-fuel MPV, based on the popular MPV Innova HyCross.
Notably it is the world’s first fully ethanol-powered car equipped with a flex-fuel engine.
This is meant to be a hybrid solution to traditional fossil fuel and is designed to run exclusively on ethanol, a plant-derived fuel categorized as E100.
The flex-fuel prototype has a modified 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine that runs on E85 fuel (an 85 per cent ethanol blend).
Additionally, it will come with a lithium-ion battery pack which can provide enough power to let it operate in EV mode.
What changes from the original?
Toyota has changed the spark plugs and piston rings for improved corrosion resistance.
A cold-start system has been added which helps start the car in temperatures as low as -15 degrees celsius.
To make it compatible with the BS6 Stage II norms, three-way catalyst programming has been included.
Other changes include modifications in fuel tank and fuel pipe material.
An ethanol sensor and new fuel pump and filter are some of the other additions.
Significance of ethanol
Ethanol is a renewable fuel that is made from the fermentation of sugars from plant materials.
It is a clean-burning fuel that produces fewer emissions than gasoline, which makes it an ideal clean energy alternative for the country.
It is already used as fuel in Brazil, US, China, and Thailand.
Toyota claims that the vehicle can offer over 30 to 50 per cent higher fuel efficiency.
However, calibration and validation of the prototype is pending.
It said that it also has the lowest well-to-wheel emissions footprint of any similar-sized vehicle across powertrain technologies.
Vikram Gulati, country head at Toyota Kirloskar Motor, noted that there is “significantly higher ethanol available” than needed for E20 fuel at present.
It may also potentially reduce the overall transportation cost to around Rs 60 per litre.
There is no confirmed release date for production, which makes sense seeing as there are no ethanol fuel stations in India.
However there is potential for wide adoption since the reduced emissions and high fuel efficiency may be attractive to those with high usage.
India is targeting countrywide availability of E20 fuel (a blend of petrol with 20 per cent ethanol) by 2025.
Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari said, “India can reach 20 per cent Ethanol blending within three months as our ethanol manufacturers have that capacity.
India can become the world’s number 1 producer of ethanol.
My dream is to have all cars, two-wheelers, auto rickshaws running on 100 per cent Ethanol”