Diesel car sales evolution in Sweden and its consequences

During the last few days BILSweden has made public 2 statistics that may not seem related to each other, but in fact they are linked to another.

The first has the title:
Sex av tio nya bilar är dieslar i Västra Götalands län
(Six out of ten new cars are diesles in the Västra Götalands region)

It talks about how the sales of diesel cars have increased over the last years.

Diesel and E85 car sales increased from 2006 till 2008 while petrol(Bensin) sales decreased accordingly. But from 2008 diesel cars became more interesting (maybe because oil prices reached it’s maximum of about 140$ per barrel that year).

Since then diesel sales dominate the field reaching the current 60% value, not only in that region but in the whole country.

The increase of diesel sales helped Sweden reduce its CO2 emissions from new cars.

– The sharp increase in diesel share, not least of diesels with emissions of 120 grams per km, has been a major contributing factor to the average carbon dioxide emissions from new cars has fallen by 20 percent during the past four years, “said Bertil Molden president of CAR Sweden.

But today a new statistic has been published.

Koldioxidutsläppen från nya bilar lägre än vad de officiella värdena visar
(Carbon dioxide emissions from new cars are lower than the official values ​​show)

[table id=22 /]

As we can see the official values decrease, while the “fair” values, which take into account the difference between fossil fuels and renewable fuels, reached a minimum in 2009.

The official method does not take into account whether the fuels are fossil or renewable. For example, counts as ethanol gasoline and bio-gas as natural gas, which overstates the actual emissions. The official value of new cars carbon dioxide emissions, which Transport Agency has reported to the European Commission, declined from 164 grams / km during 2009-151 g / km in 2010, which is a record decrease for one year. The fair value, taking into account the lower emissions from biofuels was under BIL Sweden calculations on largely unchanged, in 2010, 134 g / km. The reason that the fair value did not decline was a decline in the proportion of newly registered passenger cars of ethanol, due to uncertainty about the benefit of these cars after 1 January 2012.

I hope diesel gets a little bit more expensive during this year, maybe then people will start reconsidering E85 once again, and the Swedish politicians will leave E85 cars as “green cars” for another couple of years.


54 thoughts on “Diesel car sales evolution in Sweden and its consequences”

    • Saab is sleeping,
      it is already quite late in Sweden.
      Tomorrow after the breakfast, and a big cup of coffee, we will know if Saab was even wounded.


        • A short article from PA during the evening which basically says very little…

          “Swedish suppliers say Saab neglecting payments


          A Swedish trade association says car maker Saab Automobile has failed to pay several suppliers.

          FKG association CEO Svenake Berglie says at least five car part suppliers have not received payments from Saab since Friday that could “easily add up to millions” of Swedish kronor (hundreds of thousands of dollars).

          Saab spokesman Thomas Schulz said he did not know about the claims and dismissed rumors that production at Saab’s main plant was halted Tuesday.

          A metal workers union, however, said work was disrupted at the factory but could not confirm if it was linked to a conflict with suppliers.

          Last year, tiny Dutch company Spyker Cars NV surprised markets by buying Saab out of liquidation from GM.”

  1. RedJ, I’m not sure that I share your enthusiasm for E85. The diversion of agriculture for use in making E85 has significantly driven up the price of staple foods that poorer nations depend on to feed their populaces and recent studies have shown emissions are worse for vehicles using E85 than regular petrol.

    • I agree with you , E85 is not the solution to stop climate warming and reduce co2 emmisons…………,

    • The increased fuel prices have little to do with increased use of biofuels, it’s mostly other factors behind that. The emissions from the use of biofuels depends totally on how they are produced and range from higher emissions down to say -80%.

      However, to replace the 95 TWh of energy used by the transportation sector in Sweden with ethanol would require some 7 million hectares of land, this is more than twice the land availible for agriculture in Sweden, so we can’t all drive around in E85 fueled cars (for EU in general the situation is even worse). Biomass availability for biofuels is limited so it is important that new cars consume as little fuel as possible, regardless if they use gasoline, diesel or ethanol. From that perpective diesel cars are really good. It’s not about replacing gasoline and diesel, it’s about reducing the use of fossil fuels. Some people have difficulty to understand that, they just think that if every new car sold can run on ethanol and if there’s an ethanol pump on every gas station the problem is solved. These people simply doesn’t understand the problem.

        • So true! Another oil is not the solution. It’s just moving focus to the foodchain. Now we’re driving cars and causing a lot of trouble in the middle eastern. Then we’re driving cars and letting people starf to dead because the fields where in normal ciscumstances food was being produced are now being used to grow fuel for our cars (not mentioning the water/irrigation issues).
          I personally don’t like the E85 solution at all, it’s just window dressing.

      • From that perpective diesel cars are really good. It’s not about replacing gasoline and diesel, it’s about reducing the use of fossil fuels.

        Do we really consume less oil by subsidizing diesel cars and thus stimulating more driving…?

        Good for the industry, though.

        • Diesel cars aren’t susidized. They are however taxed slightly different. Less tax on the fuel, more tax on the car, but the difference between gasoline and diesel is getting smaller.

          Ethanol on the other hand is subsidized, it’s tax free.

          • Call it what you want, but the CO2 based government contributions are very much in favour of diesel cars. Without these, and with a realistic fuel price, the sales of diesel would be less. And we would overall consume less oil based fuels…

    • There’s more ways to make ethanol than chopping up a cornfield. 20 times more ethanol can be harvested from algae than any food based solution.

    • mlob2, in the 90s, the price of grain hit an historic low. Developing nations had problems sustaining their agriculture because industrial countries flooded the market with cheap grain.

      Food prices rose as a result of oil prices rising. Expensive oil = more expensive production of corn.

      Ethanol production allows developing countries to import less oil. It is an opportunity for growth, not the opposite.

      In the 80s/90s, many farmers were subsidized in order to encourage them to stop growing corn. Many fields were put out of usage. I have tried to figure out what happened after that, but haven’t been able to find any good sources. I suspect a lot of land is still going unused.

      Giving away food to developing nations is the worst thing anyone can do. That will cripple any chance they have of growing their own food.

  2. as noone else cares about the subject given i wont either. Today was out driving in the centre of my smallish town i saw TWO wild 9-5’s within twenty minutes. A white aero one in a hotel parking and minutes later i passed a silver one om my way home. The white Aero at the front hotel parking with about 30 cars in a row was a real presence i tell you. The 5 series beamer station wagon parked next to it looked like a little car that needs to call mummy.

    • LOL…awesome! I’ve yet to see a 9-5 on the road, but the closest Saab dealer is an hour away, so I don’t expect I would often see a newer model Saab anyways.

  3. My small town is in the middle of sweden with 50.000 inhabitants. prior to today i seen at the most one 9-5 a month here and that is the reason i was so surprised to see two of them on my short trip to the liquor shop today.

  4. I hope diesel gets a little bit more expensive during this year

    While there are many differing opinions over which source of energy will reach ubiquity in the future, none of us should actively hope for such a thing as this.

      • Next week I have to make a trip to Frankfurt which I can do in 2,5 hours if I put my foot down. At over €1,53 a litre I guess I’ll have to accept a 120km/h limit which will no doubt add another hour to my journey. : (

      • I am not a fan of fossil fuels – not by a long shot. I jus don’t “wish” greater cost upon consumers, many of whom are already struggling due to the economy, simply to boost some other form of combustable fuel that may be cleaner than diesel but is barely an improvement compared to pure electric.

  5. The statistics just make it plain clear, that even in the homemarket Saab cannot survive without having a competitive range of Diesel engines. The advance of Diesel in Sweden is however particular, it first got at the expense of gasoline and since 2 years at the expense of E85. I am not an expert about it, but is E85 in Sweden not won out of wood chips? No problem / interference with global food shortage.
    To develop a strategy for a more powerful Diesel for the 9-5 (and 9-4x)is still a key requirement.

    • No, it’s not made from wood chips. A little over half the ethanol is made in Sweden from grain, the rest is imported.

  6. About this part: “Carbon dioxide emissions from new cars are lower than the official values ​​show”. I tend to disagree.
    I recently switched from a 2005 9-3 SS TiD automatic (150HP) to a 2011 Cabrio TTiD manual tranny (160HP). The convertible is supposed to have a CO2-output of … 137g/km. However, the average consumption figure I’ve gotten out of the ‘vert is 6.5 l/100km, which translates to a CO2-output of 171 g/km. Now I might succeed in pushing it as low as 5.5 l/100km, but there’s not way I will ever get the CO2-output as low as the official 137 g/km.
    The “funny” thing is that the sportsedan had a comparable consumption, but a MUCH higher official CO2 output. So as far as I’m concerned, all this CO2 measuring is just a couple of tricks, but it doesn’t reflect a realistic drop in real-life output.

    • Many car magazines states (I haven’t owned a brand new diesel so I wouldn’t know myself) that the initial consumption on a brand new diesel car is very high compared to the official numbers.

      Once you have driven some 5000 km you can expect the consumption to start dropping.

      • I’m at 12.000km, but the numbers are still way off. The way CO2 output is measured in the automobile industry is not realistic.

        • The way CO2 output is measured in the automobile industry is not realistic.

          Not only is it not realistic, I would say it’s on the border of what is legal. Billions of tax payer’s money is spent on subsidies, based on measurings that bear no relation to reality…

        • The fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are measured according to a stanardized cycle using reference fuels. The drag and rolling resistance of the car is measured and the car is then driven on a chassis dyno with simulated loads. This is not something the car manufacturers can change.

          The average speed and accelerations during this stanardized cycle is quite low so it’s easy to get a higher fuel consumption in real use. Cold starts and use of the fuel powered heater will also have an effect on the fuel consumption not included in the official value.

          It should however be noted that the diesel sold in Sweden has a lower density than the reference diesel used in these tests, this increase fuel consumption by about 2%.

    • These are measured values, or calculated values based on measurements, and as such, they are hard to disagree with. I think that you would be right if everybody would follow your driving and fueling pattern.

    • DPF is one the reasons why new diesels do not get low consumption in real world. Especially if you drive on cold weather and short trips. The engine tries to burn particles more ofter causing higher fuel consumption.

      It´s not cars or manufacturers to blame but the ER fuel consumption measurement. It´s not even close to what we consider a normal everyday driving.

  7. Excellent post as usual RedJ. I love graphs. I share your views on E85. People can argue all day long about how environmentally friendly E85 is, or not is. At the end of the day, the E85 is a much better choice that fossil fuels, because its renewable. Ok, fossil fuels are also renewable but they acquire extremely long process times, and we cant wait that long.
    It would be nice if you could also include the oil price in the graph. Then we could perhaps see the sensitivity the average buyer has to the momentan value of the oil price, when buying a car.

  8. I’m not euphoric about E85, but I would like that my grandsons will also be able to enjoy individual mobility.

    From my pov, the future energy source for mobility does not exist now, so there is still much work to do.

    But what are the current alternatives:

    – Crude Oil: I’ve heard it will come to an end.
    – Fuel cell: To produce hydrogen is very energy expensive, and to store it is even more complicated.
    – Electricity: To extract Lithium is not the best thing you can do to your environment, but as it happens somewhere in south America, it doesn’t seem to interest any. And where should we get the electricity from? Wind, solar and water are good options, but not every country can afford that. Coal or crude oil are no options for me, not to talk about nuclear power plants.
    – Bio-mass: I think we are still a long way till we can use Bio-mass as an energy source, but if we start denying it as a viable possibility, and stop research in that field, we will loose a possibility.

    E85 is not the fuel for the future, but it has some pros, and if people use it, companies will invest money in getting E85 more viable.

    I’m sorry, but I don’t understand the hype for diesels. yes they are more economical and produce less CO2, but what about the rest like NOx or particulate?

    I know countries where diesel is less expensive than petrol. In those countries people buy diesels only because they are much cheaper to run, people don’t care much about the environment, and because diesel is not a clean technology, I do not understand why diesel fuel should be less expensive than other fuels.

    I do respect your knowledge on that field but I never said that E85 should be the only fuel to be used. E85 should imho reach a sustainable level, not more not less. Maybe you know if Sweden can afford more E85cars, I do not, but I always believe that the offer is controlled by the demand, although I’m usualy teached that this is not the case.

    • The main problem is we’re not ready to evolve.

      Sounds and odd statement but the reality is that fossil based fuels are still affordable compared to the alternatives. Germany is just introducing e10, which should be an easy transition, yet enough so called experts have created enough doubt on wether out cars will suffer any long term effects from using it? The other problem is that e10 will be rated at 95RON but we know e85 has a 104RON rating. To me that means, for me at least, the petrol companies are mixing low grade petrol with with higher octane ethanol to reach this magical 95RON figure. On top of that they expect us to pay more? So the incentive to switch to e10 is missing too.

      I’ve also noticed a sharp increase in diesel lately and where as there was a good 20 cents difference between diesel and 95RON petrol last year, there is less than 10cents dividing them now. I understand that in some countries the price of diesel is higher but I believe this is due to the level of tax applied to the different fuel sources. However even in these cases the pricing has been manipulated to make sure diesel is still a viable cost effective option.

      The oil companies are still running the show and will do until they are ready to change the game. In the meantime we have governments spending billions into a electric charging infrastructure for expensive EVs that don’t exist, when already they are scratching their heads on how to meet our current energy demands. Hybrid should be part of a solutions but it isn’t environmentally responsible. Plugging your car into the mains will only drive the cost per kWh upward.

      Public transport isn’t answer either because with the first bit of bad weather, the heath and safety manager jumps in and cancels the transport due to a higher chance of an insurance claim, leaving those who left their cars at home stranded.

      We need to use less energy that’s the answer.
      We need to not substitute one addiction (oil) with another (electricity)
      We need an effective fuel source that is renewable Ethanol, Hydrogen, CNG are a far better solution than shipping lithium batteries half way around the world and creating man made deserts with buried waste.
      For those who say they need a n EV because they live in the city all I say is use a bike, you’ll get there quicker.
      I don’t have the beauty of being able to get from meeting to meeting via public transport and I don’t want to be paying over €2,00 a litre for fuel either.

      And one last thing on depleting crops and the staving millions.
      The world’s population is growing and mother nature can only produce so much food. The west uses masses of land to grow wine. Asian countries are eating more meat than ever before and developing countries are still buying guns.
      You don’t need to dissect this short piece of cynicism, the picture is a lot bigger than I’ve made it out to be, but I believe you get my point.

      • For those who say they need a n EV because they live in the city all I say is use a bike, you’ll get there quicker.

        I do use a bike as much as I can, and boy does the diesel exhaust irritate my lungs…

      • I find it sad that European makers are complaining about E10 when they’ve been making E10-compatible cars to sell in North America for over 30 years. Is that not a long enough time span to determine if there are any long-term effects on engines?
        The same thing happened with unleaded fuels. They sold compatible cars in the US for twenty years while claiming that they didn’t know how to do the same in Europe.

    • If you want your grandsons to enjoy individual mobility, ethanol is not the solution.

      Currently fossil fuels supply just over 80% of the worlds energy. The biggest non fossil sources are hydro and nuclear at some 6% each. Among the fossil fuels, oil is mostly used in transportation while coal and natural gas dominate the electricity and heat sector; coal having the largest share. Within EU nuclear, coal and natural gas (in that order) dominate the electricity production having roughly 78% of the total production. Hydropower provides roughly 10%, oil 4%, biomass 3% and wind 2%. In Sweden biomass is often used for district heating, or combined heat and power with a total efficiency of 90-110%. In EU countries with coal fired powerplants, biomass is sometimes used as a blend with coal. This is today the cheapest way to use the availible biomass and to reduce our energy consumption “heat and power” have to get a larger market share.

      The easiest and cheapest way to use more ethanol is to use it as a low blend with gasoline. For instance, in Sweden roughly 5 million m^3 of gasoline is used each year. If that gasoline contained 10% ethanol, it would require 500,000 m^3 of ethanol, much more than all the E85 cars in Sweden use each year even though they are heavily subsidized. The situation is the same with diesel, low blends with FAME allows the usage of large amounts of biofuels. This can then be increased further (up to 100%) by synthetic diesel, made either from FAME by hydrogenation or by thermo chemical means from biomass or biogas. But in order to be able to replace fossil fuels the most important part is to reduce the energy used, otherwise the volumes required would be too large.

      With the latest diesel engines NOx and particulates aren’t really such big problems. NOx levels are from a health perpective no longer a concern and like diesel engines, direct injected gasoline engines produce particulates too. The diesel also emit less CO and unburned hydrocarbons. The difference in terms of emissions is today not what it used to be.

      Diesel fuel is taxed lower than gasoline but this is compensated by higher tax on diesel cars. Ethanol isn’t taxed at all, which is why it is cheaper. With the same tax as on gasoline or diesel, E85 would cost more than both diesel and gasoline.

      • Edis,
        I know that “the solution” is not available now, but if we stop researching in different possibilities, and only use resources we know will be depleted sooner or later, this can’t be “the solution”.

        Anyhow, I do not have “the solution” either, therefore I see bio-fuels as of many technologies that will lower the crude oil dependency, which will be in the future at least as important as reducing the CO2 footprint.

      • With the latest diesel engines NOx and particulates aren’t really such big problems. NOx levels are from a health perpective no longer a concern

        Do you mean that the chemical reaction of sunlight, nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which is creating smog no longer exists? Wow. I mean, wow.

      • With the latest diesel engines NOx and particulates aren’t really such big problems

        In 2008, Kjell ac Bergström told AMS that future diesel engines would have to reduce their compression in order to emit less NOx (http://www.automotorsport.se/news/14659/etanol-är-ett-drömbränsle/). His prediction was that E85 would eventually be close to diesel in consumption.

        Are you sure NOx emissions is a thing of the past?

        BTW: How much CO is there with a petrol engine? My MY97 9000 was in for its annual checkup last week, and the measured CO emission was 0.0%. How can you get lower than that? (in fact, I kinda expected the 9000 to emit less CO than the input…)

  9. Yet no one talks (enough) about diesel’s superior role in maximizing PM10 concentrate in the air and thus causing a deadly environment for humans (and animals), causing possible lung symptoms in the least, but principally lung cancer. Diesel should die, not us, if we had a choice.

  10. There is absolutely no proof that ethanol use in cars causes higher food prices. The hike in food prices is a very complex issue which unfortunately makes the issue being taken as hostage in many debates. I agree with Red, the main thing is that we research into it and find alternatives. The more alternatives the better – let the best man win. Noone knows what the research will bring (although some people think they do).

    Concerning the CO2 official value and fair value I don’t agree with the long held campaign by BILsweden. The figures they use are built on assumptions and self interest. One has to go on the official figures as long as BILSwden cannot show audited and scientifically proven (well-to-wheel) figures. Let’s not fool ourselves, the official figures must comes down.

  11. Great article RedJ! Well researched, and with an interesting point: Maybe people will go back to E85-cars because they are less expensive to drive? Yeah, why not? I certainly drive my Dame Edna on E85 and would definitely consider NOT to go on the Diesel Band Wagon when I change car.
    After all, the Otto is a smoother engine as well…

  12. @Red J – the question of where would we get electric for our electric cars from, I still say nuclear. Japan’s crumbling reactors aside, when nuclear energy is done with upmost care and safety, it is über clean and essentially limitless in power output.

    • it is über clean and essentially limitless in power output.

      I don’t know what you mean with über-clean, but a technology that creates the waste the nuclear reactor creates it’s not that clean, imho.

      And Uranium is not limitless, it will also come to an end, sooner or later.

  13. Another view on the diesel is the huge costs of replacing the particle filter. Some of the car magazines in sweden have articles on prices in the range of 15-20.000 SEK! = 1500-2000euros = ???? $

  14. Ethanol indeed seems like a bygone fad. Indeed, producing ethanol is not an energy-efficient process, and competes with many other uses of the same feedstock. Moreover, using ethanol in ICEs presents quite a few issues.

    Diesel is by far overrated. It soots like hell. This comes from a TTiD driver – I chose the car for performance, not frugality. The TTiD indeed has an edge over the LK9 in the performance department. Plus, for whatever reason, Saab priced it favorably here.

    There is a fuel that has a lot of future though, and that’s natural gas (call it biogas, methane, biomethane or whichever you want), which can easily and efficiently be generated from almost any carbohydrate. It’s the most energy-efficient hydrocarbon to burn, it is clean (requires no additives for internal combustion and itself produces the minimum possible CO2 and CO per unit of energy), requires no adaptation for use in currently produced ICEs (apart from storage and fuel delivery, that is), it’s healthy, it’s vegetarian, it’s beans!

  15. I don’t know what you mean with über-clean

    Über-clean as in, does not create anywhere near the mass quantity of atmospheric pollution that all other sources which involve burning anything do. Nuclear waste can quite easily be contained relative to greenhouse gasses.

    And Uranium is not limitless, it will also come to an end, sooner or later.

    Sooner or later the Sun will expand into a red giant, so massive it encompasses the Earth and all the other inner planets inside itself, before finally exploding in super nova. Hopefully hundreds of millions of years before that we will have perfected the harvesting of solar energy to the point that all other energy sources become obsolete, but between then and now Nuclear-generated electricity can play a role in ridding us of fossil fuels, which are going to run out within years not centuries.

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