Toyota Kirloskar Motors on Tuesday unveiled a prototype of flex-fuel hybrid Innova Hycross SUV in Delhi. The carmaker claims it is the world's first BS-VI hybrid flex-fuel car.

The prototype has both the flex fuel engine as well as an electric powertrain, thereby offering higher use of ethanol combined with better fuel efficiencies.

The day is not far when all vehicles will run on ethanol, says Union minister of road transport and highways Nitin Gadkari before taking the covers off the car.

Gadkari urged Hardeep Singh Puri, minister of petroleum and natural gas, to ask oil marketing companies (OMCs) to start ethanol pumps across the country.

This comes as the government has preponed its 20% ethanol blending in petrol target to 2025 from 2030. The Centre has also diversified the feed from it comes to sugar, maize, food waste, broken food grains, and bamboo.

The Centre achieved 10% ethanol blending five months before its November 2022 target.

Ethanol blending in India has increased by over 8 times. It has increased from 1.53 % in 2014 to around 11.5 % (March 2023) leading to savings in the import bills and also lowering of carbon emissions, says Puri.

E20 fuel is being dispensed at more than 3300 fuel stations across the country and shall be available pan India by April 2025, he says.

"With E20 implementation by April 2025, the expected oil import bill savings may be around ₹35,000 crore annually," says Puri.

India has huge ethanol potential much beyond 20%, according to the petroleum minister. Earlier, the cars were engineered to only take 20% ethanol in fuel.

Citing the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI), Gadkari says, "we can add 15% ethanol in diesel vehicles."

There are 189 parliamentary constituencies in India that produce sugar cane, Gadkari says, adding that ethanol-blended fuel helps farmers earn better returns.

He urged automakers to make more models on flex engines. "Our dream is to run motorcycles, autorickshaws and cars on 100% ethanol," says Gadkari.

"The petrol rate is ₹120 per litre, ethanol is ₹60 per litre. For this car, the average mileage is coming at 15-20 kilometres per litre," Gadkari said last week.

India is the third largest passenger vehicle market in the world after the U.S. and China. The Centre aims to make it the number one market, said Gadkari.

The automobile industry is one of the largest employers and biggest exporters in India. The country's auto industry is growing at 9.91% and the size of this industry is estimated at $150 billion, says Gadkari. "The overall GDP contribution is 6.5% while its contribution to manufacturing is 49%," he said.

The auto sector has created 40 million direct and indirect jobs so far, the Union minister said.

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