The exhibition area at the India Auto Expo, India’s largest auto show held every two years, covers an area equal to 15 football fields. Stationed amid vehicle unveilings and booths representing 40 different vehicle manufacturers, the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and U.S. industry partners invited attendees to learn about the economic, environmental and health benefits of increased ethanol use. Roughly 600,000 individuals — including Indian consumers, fuel industry stakeholders and government officials — attended the auto show.
The Society for the Indian Automobile Association (SIAM) invited the Council to attend the show in February. Jim Zook, executive director of the Corn Marketing Program of Michigan, and Greg Krissek, CEO of Kansas Corn, joined with USGC staff and consultants to represent the U.S. farmer and ethanol production perspectives.
“The Council’s participation in the Auto Show was very successful and allowed us to place ethanol at the highest level of importance to both Indian consumers and industry as well as government officials,” said Alejandra Danielson Castillo, USGC regional director for South Asia. “This marked the first engagement requested by an Indian stakeholder in our in-country ethanol market development effort and allowed us to show the U.S. industry members in attendance our strategy at work.”
India is currently the third largest buyer of U.S. ethanol in the 2019/2020 marketing year (September 2019-December 2019) at 48.8 million gallons (17.3 million bushels in corn equivalent). However, those imports were only for industrial uses. As a producer of ethanol, India's national biofuels policy does not allow ethanol imports for fuel use. The Council is working with Indian industry to address the economic benefits of having a robust fuel ethanol industry policy, including the potential for imports to help the country meet its E10 mandate.
The USGC booth worked to dispel some myths about ethanol use, emphasizing how ethanol has cleaner combustion properties, reduces particulate matter emissions, reduces overall greenhouse gas emissions, does not impact food security and provides cost savings.
“I was very impressed with the booth layout, with the traffic that came through and all the questions being asked of the participants,” Zook said. “A very educational booth allowed us to answer a lot of questions for the people attending the show.”
The biggest draw to the booth, however, was a mock U.S. fuel pump that provided a clear demonstration of the price difference between ethanol and non-ethanol blended gasoline, including significant cost savings for consumers. The Indian Minister of Road Transport and Highway came to the booth to specifically look at the pump and pricing options.
“The mock gas pump stimulated conversation among event attendees,” Danielson Castillo said. “Allowing full market access to the fuel market, all Indian motorists could have access to at least E10 in their pumps, capturing all of the economic, environmental and health benefits.”
While in country, Krissek also spoke on an alternative fuels panel during the Global Electrification Mobility Summit, which ran concurrently to the expo.
The Council will continue to build upon these partnerships in India and engage with stakeholders, like the ones involved with the Auto Expo, who can work with the Indian government as policy changes are discussed.
“The Council — in responding to the invitation to be at the auto show — was well-placed to discuss ethanol and its compatibility with Indian vehicles,” Krissek said. “It’s an exciting time to meet with stakeholders so that when trade opportunities are available, the U.S. ethanol industry will be well-positioned to further develop these partnerships.”