There’s no denying that India is one of the pioneers when it comes to the development and manufacturing of vehicles with alternative energy sources. With a booming electric motorcycle market coming to service in India, thanks to government subsidies concerning electric vehicles, it won’t be surprising to see tons of new electric motorcycles and scooters flood the market in the near future.
While the future indeed lies in the electrification of vehicles, biofuels in the form of ethanol infused gasoline are also a viable step forward towards greener mobility. At present, most of India’s gasoline is blended with 8.6 percent ethanol. In the not too distant future, particularly in 2025, India seeks to blend at least 20 percent ethanol in its fuels. In line with this, some manufacturers have already begun development of flex fuel technology particularly for two wheeled vehicles.
For starters, TVS Motor Company and Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) have begun studying the viability of flex-fuel-equipped engines for motorcycles. Although the targeted implementation for the 20 percent ethanol blend fuels in India is still in 2025, the government is already recommending automotive and motorcycle manufacturers to study the viability of E100, or pure ethanol-powered vehicles. The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, the automotive industry body, and a number of sugar manufacturers recently held a stakeholders meeting to discuss the feasibility of the government-proposed adoption of E100-powered vehicles.
Naturally, the viability of such a proposal would depend on a myriad of variables, first and foremost would be the supply of ethanol. Majority of India’s ethanol supply used to come from molasses. However, given its limited supply, the government has begun facilitating ethanol production from the waste products of various grains including rice husk, bran, and wheat stock. In order for this plan to work, a consistent and steady supply of ethanol must be made available.