Sweden's Green Car Explosion


At this week's Clean Vehicles and Fuels conference in Stockholm, city officials released an updated survey showing that 50 percent of city residents would consider shopping for a "miljöbil" when they buy their next car. That's a huge increase from 2004, the last time the survey was done, when just 20 percent of respondents said they'd consider buying a green, or environmentally friendlier car.

One reason for the mental shift has to be Stockholm's congestion tax, newly implemented this year after a 2006 trial. Registered green cars are exempt from the automated tax, and thus are becoming highly sought after - a total of more than 25,000 have been sold since May, to both consumers and for fleets. A big percentage of those green cars are 'bi-fuel' models that run on either regular gas or the E85 ethanol blend. Sales of ethanol bi-fuels in Sweden more than doubled from 21,000 by the end of 2005 to 46,000 by the end of 2006. But just as Swedish consumers jump on the ethanol trend big time, officials are going another direction.

City governments in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö are putting their resources into a better biogas - compressed natural gas - infrastructure. Unfortunately, a series of unfortunate events - including Volvo dropping its biogas models in 2006 - means biogas cars are few and far between still in Sweden, though more widely available in other European countries. A little surprisingly, Italy is the biggest biogas car driving nation - with 413,000 vehicles, while Germany produces the most biogas - 2,000,000 tons annually. The scarcity of biogas cars is forcing Swedes to import from other countries, especially Germany. Thus two new biogas cars hotly awaited here are the 2008 Passat Ecofuel (pictured), and the Mercedes B170 NGT. ::Miljofordon.se

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