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As India continues to push new energy vehicles in a bid to transform transportation in the country, Union minister Nitin Gadkari has announced the government will issue an order to all vehicle manufacturers – including those operating in the mass-market as well as premium segments – making flex-fuel engines mandatory for their vehicles in the next three to four months. Speaking at the stone-laying ceremony of a flyover in Pune, Gadkari said he hopes to see demand for petrol and diesel fall as more motorists switch to using vehicles powered by locally produced ethanol.

“I have a wish. I want to stop the petrol and diesel use in the country in my lifetime, and our farmers can give the alternative to this in the form of ethanol. I am going to issue an order in the next three to four months, in which carmakers – from BMW, Mercedes to Tata and Mahindra – will be asked to make flex engines,” said Gadkari.

Flex-fuel, or flexible fuel, is an alternative fuel made of a combination of gasoline and methanol or ethanol.

Even two-wheeler manufacturers will be asked to work on flex-fuel engines for their scooters and motorcycles. According to PTI, Gadkari says he has asked Bajaj and TVS not to approach him until they have made progress on this front. Interestingly, TVS launched an ethanol-powered variant of its Apache motorcycle – named the Apache RTR 200 Fi E100 – in 2019, but was made available in only three states: Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, and Karnataka.

He added that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had inaugurated three ethanol pumps in Pune.

“I would like to ask you (Ajit Pawar) to take up the work of setting up multiple ethanol pumps in Pune as well as in western Maharashtra districts as it would help farmers and the sugar industry,” he said.

The target date for achieving 20 per cent ethanol blending with petrol in India has been advanced to 2025 to cut pollution and reduce import dependence.

Gadkari has previously said ethanol is a better fuel than petrol, and it is an import substitute, cost-effective, pollution-free and indigenous. He also mentioned that ethanol as a fuel would boost the Indian economy because India is a “corn surplus, sugar surplus, and wheat surplus country.”

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