“Ethanol is slightly cheaper than petrol. More of it is consumed, but there is no difference from the point of view of driving. It just smells a little like booze”, laughs Anette Larsson at a Stockholm filling station. Larsson, who works for the municipal rental accommodation company of the City of Stockholm, has an ethanol-run car as her official vehicle. It is one of the approximately 2,500 ethanol-driven cars in Stockholm.
Environmentally-friendly cars are becoming more common in Sweden, where the state and local authorities offer financial incentives to drivers who opt for the vehicles, and where filling station chains are expanding the distribution network.
“Sweden has 15,000 ethanol cars, but the number is expected to grow this year when Saab and Volvo bring their own models onto the market”, says Camilla Dowling, head of environmental affairs at the country’s largest filling station chain OKQ8.
There are a total of 160 pumps around the country where ethanol is available.
One in five of Sweden’s environmentally friendly cars is in Stockholm. The city’s administration itself has bought several hundred of them, most of which run on ethanol distilled from by-products of the wood processing industry.
Stockholm is drawing up new incentives for environmentally-friendly cars. “You can get a grant of up to 10,000 krona for the purchase of such a car. Other perks include free residential parking”, says Annika Nordström of Stockholm’s environmental administration.
In Stockholm, company cars running on ethanol, gas, or electricity are taxed at a lower rate.
The city estimates that sales of environmentally friendly cars will triple this year. Sales of ethanol are also sharply increasing.
“Our ethanol sales have almost doubled in a year”, says Dowling of OKQ8.
Sweden’s ethanol car market is dominated by Ford, which was the first to start making them. The Ford Focus Flexifuel model has an 80% share of the eco-car market in Sweden.
Source: Helsingin Sanomat June 16, 2005.