Toyota Innova Hycross Flex-Fuel Hybrid MPV Makes World Premiere In India
By Amaan Ahmed
3 mins read
Published on August 29, 2023
- Toyota India unveils Innova Hycross hybrid prototype that can run on ethanol.
- Prototype has a modified 2.0-litre engine that can run on E85 fuel.
- Claims to offer substantially higher fuel efficiency and reduced emissions footprint.
The Toyota Innova Hycross flex-fuel hybrid MPV has made its world premiere in India. Based on the increasingly popular Hycross MPV, the flex-fuel prototype has a modified 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine that runs on E85 fuel (an 85 per cent ethanol blend). Toyota Kirloskar Motor has changed the spark plugs and piston rings for improved corrosion resistance. A cold-start system has been added, which aids in starting the car in temperatures as low as -15 degrees celsius. Factoring in the real-driving emissions stipulated by the BS6 Stage II norms, three-way catalyst programming has been included, along with a change in fuel tank and fuel pipe material. Also included are an ethanol sensor and new fuel pump and filter.
Calibration and validation of the Innova flex-fuel hybrid prototype is pending, but Toyota says such a vehicle can offer over 30 to 50 per cent higher fuel efficiency, while also having the lowest well-to-wheel emissions footprint of any similar-sized vehicle across powertrain technologies.
A cutaway of the Innova Hycross flex-fuel hybrid's modified 2.0-litre engine.
Vikram Gulati, country head at Toyota Kirloskar Motor, noted that there is “significantly higher ethanol available” than needed for E20 fuel at present. Attending the unveil of the prototype were road transport minister Nitin Gadkari, petroleum minister Hardeep S Puri and heavy industries minister Mahendra Nath Pandey. In his address, Gadkari said that vehicle manufacturers have highlighted that the absence of ethanol fuel stations across the country stops them from launching flex-fuel vehicles. Gadkari also talked about an ARAI report that suggests blending of 15 per cent ethanol in diesel as well.
Ethanol — a biofuel made from sugar or food grains — has emerged as a potential clean energy alternative for mobility, and is used as fuel in Brazil, US, China, Thailand. The government has long opined that surplus food crops could be used to make the ethanol needed to power vehicles. While ethanol is not available as a fuel for transportation use in India as yet, it is expected to be substantially cheaper than diesel, with a litre said to cost a little over Rs 60.
India is targeting countrywide availability of E20 fuel (a blend of petrol with 20 per cent ethanol) by 2025. This move is expected to eliminate the need for up to 63 million barrels of petrol, saving Rs 35,000 crore in oil import bills and slashing CO2 emissions by up to 21 million metric tonnes in the process. Over 1,900 fuel stations are already retailing E20 fuel across India, as of August 2023, noted Toyota in its presentation. India is “very close” to looking at an international biofuels alliance, said Puri.
An ethanol-powered Hycross could potentially replace the diesel-powered Innova Crysta, which continues to be in high demand, but is nearing the end of its product life cycle. With the Hycross, Toyota has already convinced loyalists to embrace the switch from diesel to petrol power (the Hycross is only available in petrol and petrol-hybrid forms). An ethanol-powered option, with reduced emissions and high fuel efficiency (thanks to the strong hybrid technology), could be an even bigger draw for those with high usage.
In 2022, Toyota imported a Corolla Hybrid flex-fuel vehicle to India from Brazil, for a pilot project on flex-fuel hybrid cars for the Indian market. At the time, Toyota Kirloskar Motor signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, to share data obtained from the pilot project for detailed viability studies.
This is a developing story. Please stay tuned for more details.
Last Updated on August 29, 2023
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