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Toyota Innova HyCross flex-fuel MPV, world's first, launched by Nitin Gadkari

Toyota Motor Corporation introduced the world's first car that can run entirely on ethanol as an alternative fuel and is equipped with flex-fuel engine. The model, based on the popular Innova HyCross MPV, was officially launched today (August 29) at an event presided over by Union Minister Nitin Gadkari. The electrified flex-fuel Innova HyCross will not only use the alternative fuel, but will also be able to generate electric power on its own and will also be able to run on EV mode as well. The electrified Innova HyCross flex-fuel is prototype in nature and is compatible with the latest Bharat Stage 6 (Stage 2) emission norms.

Toyota Innova HyCross flex-fuel MPV will run entirely on ethanol, a fuel derived from plants. Ethanol is graded E100, which means that the vehicle is powered entirely on alternative fuels. The MPV will also have a lithium-ion battery that will be able to generate enough power to help the car run on EV mode. So far, there has been no confirmation when the production version of the electrified Innova HyCross flex-fuel will hit the roads.

The flex-fuel version of the Innova HyCross is slightly different from the hybrid version MPV currently sold in India. The engine has been tuned to run on E100 grade ethanol and the fuel tank and fuel pipe have been modified. The 2.0-liter four-cylinder unit, also used in the standard Innova HyCross model, is compatible with E85 fuel. The spark plugs and piston rings of the MPV have been changed.

Toyota has also added a cold start system that allows it to power up in cold conditions as cold as -15 degrees Celsius. The Innova HyCross flex-fuel MPV also uses a self-charging lithium-ion battery that can also be used to run the MPV in EV mode only. The standard Innova HyCross hybrid MPV can generate 181 bhp and delivers a fuel economy of 23.24 kmpl. Toyota says the flexible-fuel model could provide 30 to 50 percent more efficiency.

Union Minister Nitin Gadkari has been advocating the use of alternative fuel to reduce the costly import of crude, which are processed to produce conventional fuels such as petrol and diesel. The introduction of alternative fuels also aims to reduce pollution and in the process reduce the carbon footprint of India in the process. During the event, Gadkari said, "40 percent of the pollution in our country comes from vehicular pollution. The Residents of Delhi are facing the impact of vehicular pollution."

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India's push for biofuel, or cleaner alternative fuels, gained momentum last year when the center launched gasoline blended with ethanol. India aims to achieve a 20 percent ethanol mix in petrol by 2025

In March last year, Toyota Motor Corporation launched India's first all-hydrogen electric vehicle Mirai, as part of its pilot project with the International Center for Automotive Technology (ICAT). The Toyota Mirai FCEV is one of the world's first hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles in the world and it runs on pure hydrogen-generated electricity. It is also considered as a zero-emissions vehicle, as the car only emits water from the tailpipe.

Japanese auto giants like Toyota Motor and Honda Cars have taken the lead in introducing hybrid technology to their cars in India. Toyota had first launched the Urban Cruiser HyRyder compact SUV with powerful hybrid technology. Later, the same technology was also introduced last year in the new generation of Innova. The technology was also transferred to Maruti Suzuki, which launched modified versions of Toyota's Grand Vitara SUV and Invicto MPV.

Honda Cars has also launched its powerful e:HEV hybrid technology in its vehicles in India. This technology was first introduced in the City sedan, the carmaker's best-selling vehicle in India. 

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