Hero Moto Corp starts trial production of flex-fuel motorcycles, as other OEMs showcase vehicles going high on ethanol
India’s largest two-wheeler maker, Hero MotoCorp has started commercial production trials for flex fuel motorcycles which in all likelihood will be introduced in the 100-125 cc mass market which forms the belly of the Indian ICE scooter business.
“From January, we have started trial production of e20 fuel two-wheelers. And having done this much ahead of the deadline, Hero MotoCorp is ready with the challenge and the bikes will be capable of taking any combination of e10 and e20,” a senior company official said.
Hero Moto Corp which is looking at a premium play is all set to launch two new ICE motorcycles in the 300 cc segment and above in the second half of 2023 of which one will be jointly developed with Harley Davidson.
However, the official had a word of caution. “While the government is looking to shift to E20 and reduce the dependence on conventional fuel, the customer shouldn’t get compromised as new bikes may perform well for the first 30 to 40,000 kms. But beyond that, we also can’t say, as the vehicles will have to be tested,” he said.
On its part, Hero MotoCorp is also preparing itself to test the flex-fuel vehicles in real-time on the roads. “We are in the process of testing our flex-fuel models in at least two to three cities in India where flex fuels are available. We want to understand their behaviour on the roads before we get into commercial production before the 2025 deadline,” the official said.
Since the ethanol is hygroscopic, it absorbs water from the air, causing the fuel blend to separate. Ethanol can be extremely damaging to small engines and high-powered sports equipment, leading to corrosion of the engine and fuel system, experts say.
“While OEMs are working overtime to ensure that the customer is not impacted, higher blending will lead to a drop in fuel efficiency. However, globally oil companies have introduced higher blends in France and Thailand which are running successfully, while keeping the customer at the centre of the transition,” he further added.
Hero MotoCorp has shown its Hero Glamour XTec which is the top variant of the Glamour to run on the E20-E85 blend at the AutoExpo 2023.
Besides Hero, the AutoExpo 2023 saw a flurry of flex-fuel prototypes going high on ethanol. Honda showcased its XRE 300. Yamaha unveiled its Brazil FZ-FI at the Expo which can run on an E20 blend and even 100 percent ethanol. Bajaj too unveiled its flex-fuel Pulsar N160 and Japanese bike maker Suzuki put its Suzuki Gixxer 250 FFV on display.
While TVS Apache Motors showcased the RTR 160 4V, KN Radhakrishnan, Chairman of the council on two-wheelers at the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (Siam) and Director and CEO, TVS Motor said that by the end of October 2024 “TVS will work towards mass production of at least one model of flex-fuel two-wheeler much before the deadline.”