Maruti Suzuki, India’s largest carmaker, is one of those companies that do not have an immediate plan of jumping on the EV bandwagon. The carmaker has repeatedly observed a stance that it will start selling electric cars in India once the technology is economically feasible. This is despite the fact that the company has been testing 50 units of WagonR electric in India for quite some while now. Instead of focusing on EVs, Maruti Suzuki aims to increase the share of cleaner technologies like CNG and hybrid powertrains. But along with these, the company is considering another clean technology — flex-fuel engines. Flex-fuel engines are those powerplants that can run on flexible fuel (combination of petrol and ethanol). Maruti Suzuki is currently studying flex-fuel engines and preparing itself in case the government makes it mandatory for companies to launch vehicles using such engines.
In case you didn’t know, flex-fuel engines are essentially internal combustion engines designed to run on alternative fuel (flex fuel) which is a combination of ethanol and petrol. And given that such engines can work with more than one type of fuel, they require some modifications, especially with the fuel system to run on ethanol. The benefit of this fuel is that it has significantly less harmful emissions as compared to conventional petrol-powered vehicles. And one of the main components — ethanol — is produced sustainably, thereby reducing the carbon footprint.
Nitin Gadkari, Union Road Transport and Highways Minister, has been actively gunning for ethanol-powered vehicles in India considering the benefits of the said fuel. He has already stated that the government will soon make it mandatory for carmakers to introduce vehicles capable of running on 100 per cent biofuel.
It is also likely that automakers could be given a timeline of a year to start selling flex-fuel vehicles once the ruling comes into effect. In fact, the government has already given permission to set up 100 per cent ethanol fuel pumps in the country. In line with this, it only makes sense for Maruti Suzuki to study the viability of flex-fuel engines. However, the company noted that it will take customer demand for flex fuels into consideration before introducing flex-fuel vehicles. And as for a timeline, Maruti Suzuki isn’t sure if it will launch a flex-fuel vehicle in India next year.