Sales of clean cars have grown at a record pace in Sweden compared to other European countries. One third of all cars sold in Stockholm 2008 and a quarter of all cars sold in Sweden were alternatively fuelled vehicles.
The question is what kind of influence different factors has had on this market development.
A study from Stockholm Environment and Health Administration shows that exemption from congestion charges in Stockholm increased sales of clean cars in Stockholm County by about 23 percent in 2008. This makes it the most important financial incentive.
Lower prices for E85 and biogas have also had a similar positive impact on sales. However, free parking incentives did not influence the buyers quite as much. A national purchase rebate of SEK10,000 had some effect on sales, but rather made people choose conventional cars with low CO2 emissions.
The clean car buyers themselves say that the effect on the environment was the biggest influence when purchasing a clean vehicle. Lower operating costs and exemption from congestion charges are ranked next as equally important.
However, and maybe somewhat surprising, the purchase rebate and free residential parking are stated as of relatively low importance.
Company car drivers rank the lower employee benefit tax as most important. Environmental performance is rated as the second most influential factor and the exemption from congestion charges as third.
– The overall conclusion is that incentives that reduce operating costs seem to be stronger than incentives affecting purchasing price, says BEST Coordinator Gustaf Landahl in Stockholm.
It is important to distinguish between this pre-market phase and the market expansion phase.
Financial incentives become powerful tools in market expansion, but they are of little use if there is insufficient vehicle supply and fuel infrastructure on the market. Legal barriers and tax disadvantages must also be removed.
Stockholm’s successful work 1992-2008 on promoting clean vehicles and renewable fuels is also concluded in the study.
– Our experience clearly shows that it is possible for a city to influence the market spread of clean cars by working systematically and with long-term commitment, says Gustaf Landahl.