As of now, flex fuel tech in India is thin as air and Maruti Suzuki unveiled flex fuel capable WagonR can be a good first step
The Indian government has been pushing the automotive industry towards a greener future. We have seen FAME II subsidies to electric two wheelers and commercial vehicles in place in India. This is set to encourage a lot of early adopters towards EV tech. That said all green cars need not be electric cars.
Hence flex fuel vehicles are equally important, especially for developing countries like India. If we take Brasil as an example, flex fuel tech is widely in use. Toyota recently showcased a flex fuel capable 11th gen Corolla, imported from Brazil. Now, Maruti Suzuki has showcased WagonR Flex Fuel prototype model in Delhi.
Maruti WagonR Flex Fuel Variant
This move by Maruti Suzuki is a part of its decarbonization journey and this WagonR prototype is the first mass-segment flex fuel car. Maruti has designed this prototype powertrain in such a way that it is capable of running Ethanol blended petrol from 20% (E20) to 85% (E85). Minister of Road Transport & Highways, Nitin Gadkari presided over the event.
This prototype is designed entirely in India by Maruti Suzuki engineers with some support from Suzuki Motor Corporation, Japan. There are extensive changes under the bonnet to make this engine run on Ethanol blended fuels up to 85%.
Some of these changes are heated fuel rails to assist in cold starting situations, and an Ethanol sensor that detects the composition of fuel and percentage of Ethanol are incorporated. Along with that, fuel pumps, engine management systems and fuel injectors and a lot more components have to be made compatible with new varied fuel.
All of these changes collectively adhere to stringent BS6 Phase-II norms as well. Maruti Suzuki has revealed that it has plans to do an extensive evaluation of this tech for feasibility for the Indian mass market. Maruti Suzuki announced to make its entire product range E20 fuel compliant by March 2023.
First Maruti Car With Flex Fuel Tech
Mr. Hisashi Takeuchi, Managing Director & CEO, Maruti Suzuki India Limited said, “Maruti Suzuki has consistently aligned itself to the national objectives of reducing the country’s oil import burden and improving the environment. Designed and developed locally in India with support from SMC, Japan, the Wagon R Flex Fuel prototype vehicle emboldens Government of India’s ‘Make in India’ efforts. Notably, our research shows that an ethanol fuel based Wagon R Flex Fuel prototype vehicle operating on E85 fuel will help reduce tailpipe GHG emissions by 79% in comparison to a conventional gasoline Wagon R model while ensuring the same power performance.”
Its benefits have also been outlined in Niti Aayog’s ‘Roadmap for Ethanol Blending in India 2020-25’ which elaborates on the plan for production and utilization of ethanol for automotive applications. Further, India is the largest producer & consumer of sugar and its second-largest exporter in the world. Ethanol made from processing crop waste is ideal for an agrarian economy. This also gives an impetus to the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ initiative”.
He added, “It is our continuous endeavor to democratize new technology to make it accessible to the masses. Showcasing this Flex Fuel prototype vehicle is a step in this direction. We will introduce our first Flex Fuel vehicle for the compact segment by 2025. This is aligned with our People Technology principle which aims to make technology accessible to the masses to create a positive and tangible impact on society.”