A few people have emailed me about the articles appearing in this week’s papers about Swedes apparently having the highest CO2 outputs per capita from automobiles in Europe. It started with this article in the International Herald Tribune and has since crossed over into articles in the New York Times and The Guardian.
Here’s the issue in a nutshell:
The most recent available European Union statistics show that Sweden has the highest level of pollution-emitting cars in Western Europe. Many of those happen to be Volvos and Saabs, which tend to be roomy, high-horsepower models that emit a high count of carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas.
What’s there to say about this?
Well, some of ou may remember that I noted during my trip to Sweden last month that the Swedes certainly do love their wagons. Around 80% of new cars sold there are wagons and the highest selling car in Sweden since I’ve been tracking sales there has been the Ovlov V70 – a large-ish wagon.
Having said that, there’s a hell of a lot less SUV’s per capita than what there is here in Australia, for example, and I’d guess in other countries too. Swedes love their land and whilst this article’s happy to take a swipe at them on the proliference of wagons there, I’d suggest driving a 2.3 litre turbocharged four cylinder vehicle is better than a much bigger and heavier SUV.
And that’s without mentioning the emergence of E85 in Sweden, which is a relatively recent phenomenon.
If there’s one thing this article does bring to light, it’s a relative lack of investment in smaller engines and smaller models. Ovlov have addressed this with the C30, though it still remains to be seen how Swedes will adopt that model.
Saab’s smaller, entry-level model can’t come soon enough. Though Saab’s recent responses are worth mentioning, too. BioPower has now been available in the smaller 9-3 range, which has in very quick time replaced the 9-5 in second spot on the Swedish sales chart and increased the opportunities to use Biofuels in a bid to curtail new CO2 emissions. A small start, but a start nonetheless.
I’ll leave it to the Swedes who visit this site to deal with the rest of the article as they’re much better equipped to do so that I am, but I’ll finish with this quote, which in combination with smaller model development is one that I believe to be fairly accurate:
The number of cars running on biofuels in Sweden has risen rapidly in recent years: More than 16 percent of new cars sold in May were classified by the government as environmentally friendly because most run on ethanol, up from 13 percent in the same period a year before, according to BIL Sweden.
“The industry has developed products that mean you don’t have to choose between safety and comfort, and environmental friendliness,” Molden said, pointing to the rising use of biofuels. “No country is changing as rapidly as Sweden, and all we have to do is keep working in the same direction.”