Gadkari added that his ministry would hold a meeting with the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and the Niti Aayog to discuss the proposal of setting up ethanol pumps across the country
Commercial use two-wheelers, powered 100 percent by ethanol, will have green number plates similar to those of electric vehicles, Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari said on July 12.
Speaking at the launch of India's first 100 percent ethanol powered two-wheeler the TVS Apache RTR 200 Fi E100, Gadkari stated, "Ethanol bikes which will be used as taxis (for commercial purposes) will be granted green number plates."
Presently, only electric vehicles are allowed green number plates, irrespective of whether the vehicle ownership is private or commercial.
Gadkari added that his ministry would hold a meeting with the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and the Niti Aayog to discuss the proposal of setting up ethanol pumps across the country.
Notably, Gadkari’s constituency Nagpur is the only major area in India with ethanol supply. "We have Scania buses running on 100 percent ethanol in Nagpur. We will request the Petroleum Ministry to set up ethanol pumps alongside petrol and diesel pumps stations," he added.
The TVS Motor Company launched the ethanol-powered version of the Apache bike at Rs 1.2 lakh in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka.
The 200 cc bike can generate 10 percent more power and five percent to six percent more torque than its petrol-powered counterpart and claims a top speed of 129 kmph. "There is also a reduction in nitrogen oxide, particulate matter, carbon monoxide and sulphur dioxide," the company stated.
"The ethanol fuel economy is pegged at Rs 11,000 crore at present and we would want this to be Rs 20,000 crore. But my dream is to make it Rs 2 lakh crore," Gadkari said.
The minister also urged the auto industry to launch flexible-fuel vehicles (FFV). Such vehicles have an engine which can run on dual fuels, usually, petrol and ethanol or methanol blend.
Moneycontrol was the first to report on the two-wheeler industry’s plans for ethanol-based motorbikes. Subsequently, TVS showcased the ethanol-based Apache at the 2018 Auto Expo.
The price of ethanol varies between Rs 52-55 per litre, which as per Gadkari is much cheaper than petrol which presently costs is Rs 78 (in Mumbai).
In the past, Indian two-wheeler manufacturers have tried their hand at compressed natural gas-fueled (CNG) engines.
For example, Bajaj Auto and TVS tested CNG-run two-wheelers, and Honda launched a modified Activa to be run on CNG but had no major headway.
This was because the technology for gas-fired bikes has not evolved and the availability of the fuel still remains a hurdle.