What is flex-fuel engine and how it works

Toyota Motor has introduced Corolla Altis as India's first flex-fuel car as the Centre continues to push for alternative fuel for vehicles to reduce i
Toyota Motor has become the first carmaker in India to introduce a four-wheeler which will run on flex-fuel engine that supports both petrol and petrol mixed with ethanol as fuel.
Toyota Motor has become the first carmaker in India to introduce a four-wheeler which will run on flex-fuel engine that supports both petrol and petrol mixed with ethanol as fuel.

Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday (October 11) introduced India's first car with a flex-fuel engine. Toyota Motor has been driven in the Corolla Altis on an experimental basis as part of a pilot project on Flexi-Fuel Strong Hybrid Electric Vehicles (FFV-SHEV). It is the first on Indian roads to run on ethanol-mixed petrol after the Centre approved mixing of the sugarcane-sourced fuel. It is expected to be a more affordable option as ownership cost is likely to be less than the regular petrol or diesel cars. Gadkari himself has been propagating use of ethanol for the past few years to reduce costly imports of crude oil.

Flex-fuel engines are already popular in countries like the United States, Brazil, EU and China among others. Gadkari had earlier said that the plan is in line with the Centre's Aatmanirbhar Bharat policy to promote ethanol as a transport fuel. In December last year, Gadkari had issued an advisory to carmakers to introduce flex-fuel engines in vehicles within six months.

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India is the fifth largest manufacturer of ethanol following the US, Brazil, EU and China. To make it more effective in India context, the Centre decided to introduce it as transport fuel to reduce costly imported oil. The Centre aims to offer petrol mixed with 20 per cent ethanol by 2025. In June, India achieved target of mixing 10 per cent ethanol with petrol.

Here is a look at what is flex-fuel engine and how it works.


Flex fuel vehicles are capable on running on a combination of 100 per cent petrol or 100 per cent bio-ethanol and their blends, along with strong hybrid electric technology in case of flex-fuel strong hybrid electric vehicles. It is basically a flexible fuel which is compatible with a vehicle's internal combustion engine (ICE). It runs on either petrol or diesel as well as a mixture of fuels. The new Toyota flex-fuel car will be able make use of petrol mixed with 10 per cent ethanol that are currently available now.


The flex-fuel engines are equipped with a fuel mix sensor and an engine control module (ECM) programming that can adjust to any ratio of mixed fuel. It uses ethanol-compatible components to adjust to the fuel pump and fuel injection system.


The flex-fuel engine comes with its shares of positives and negatives. The biggest plus for this type of engine is that the use of ethanol blending will help reduce polluting elements emitted by any such vehicle. This is besides the low cost of fuel and an overall long-term ownership experience. The benefits may seem bigger than the cons which include a hit on the fuel efficiency figures. It is usually marginal in nature compared to the petrol and diesel version of the vehicle.

First Published Date: 11 Oct 2022, 14:06 PM IST

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