Stockholm has the highest percentage of clean vehicles in Europe. Not only are its City fleets well on the way to being 100% clean by 2010, but thanks to City and federal incentives the citizens of Stockholm are also going green at a fast rate, with 30,000 vehicles or 5% of all vehicles now either hybrid or using biofuels.

By removing market barriers, the City has helped create a boom in the sales of ethanol, hybrid and biogas cars. The City’s commitment to expanding the use of biofuels has had profound effect on CO2 emissions – for example, the use of E5 has reduced more than 100,000 tons CO2 annually.

What is it?

Clean Vehicles in Stockholm is a program to get all vehicles to become clean vehicles. This means that all cars must either use biofuels or emit less than 120g CO2/km (typically hybrid or extremely small vehicles). The City of Stockholm is also working with industry and the EU to expand the use of biofuels. It has committed to introduce:

  • 100% clean vehicles in the city by 2010
  • 85 % clean fuel in their tanks by 2010
  • 35 % of all vehicles sold in Stockholm should be clean by 2010

How does it work?

In 1996, Stockholm led a successful European pilot, ZEUS (Zero and low Emission vehicles in Urban Society). It succeeded in its aim of replacing existing vehicles with 300 electric and electric-hybrid vehicles, and as a result clean vehicles were rolled out across Stockholm, starting with all municipal vehicles. Today, most of the current 35,000 flexifuel cars in Stockholm belong to corporations, businesses and the Municipality.

Critical to the success of this project has been the expansion and enhancement of biofuels as an alternate fuel source for drivers. Stockholm has worked with industry and the EU to:

  • set up fuelling stations that supply biogas
  • encourage the production of its own biogas
  • establish a distribution system that can cater for growing needs
  • co-ordinate procurement activities to introduce clean vehicles on the market at reasonable prices
  • set up incentives like free parking, reduced taxes and congestion charges for clean vehicle drivers

Clean Vehicles program

The Clean Vehicles program sets out a long-term objective of reaching 5% of the market for clean vehicles by 2010. It based this target on a study of other new technology implementations that showed after market share reaches 5% the technology becomes self-sustaining. With Municipal vehicles making up only 0.2 % of all Stockholm vehicles, it was obvious that the Clean Vehicle program needed to involve the public.

The City began to help establish coordinated procurements. Bringing businesses together and working with car manufacturers they were able to introduce new clean car models and lower the price of existing models. Discussions with the national government together with other cities and NGOs led to tax discounts on vehicles and fuels – first on a trial basis for a few years and ultimately as a long-term national policy. The city offered subsidies for a few, chosen models that still were expensive, making the costs 10- 50% lower. Vehicles included:

  • 500 Electric Vehicles in Zeus
  • 3,000 Ford Focus Ethanol
  • 5,000 Clean vehicles in Trendsetter
  • 3,000 Ethanol delivery vans

City incentives were also provided:

  • An extensive information campaign directed towards the target group started and a test fleet of AFVs was set up together with the vehicle dealers.
  • Free parking for electric vehicles was introduced and the plans for free parking for all clean vehicles developed – saving some $70/month;
  • No congestion charges for clean vehicles – saving $8.50/day
  • Test fleet
  • Taxi priority
  • Subsidies for special vehicles
  • Green procurement

National government incentives:

  • long term tax discounts are offered on biofuels and hybrid vehicles.
  • Clean fuels at fuel stations are now mandatory
  • Grants are being provided to biogas stations
  • The federal government is procuring clean vehicles
  • Strict definitions of what a clean vehicle is, are bring introduced, followed by incentives for those meeting the definition – such as cheap/free parking
  • Consideration is also being given to grants for clean vehicles

As a result, 35,000 clean vehicles are on the roads and sales of clean vehicles have exceeded expectations – in 2006, 19% of sold vehicles were clean vehicles, Clean vehicles on the market in Stockholm include:

  • 26 models of biogas cars and transporters, 3 lorries, 2 garbage trucks and 2 buses.
  • Ethanol (E85 to cars, E95 to buses): 20 cars and one bus model available
  • Electric-hybrids: 4 models available.
  • less than 120 g CO2/km: 13 models

Biofuels expansion

Essential to sustaining hybrid vehicle use is access to alternate fuels. Stockholm’s first biogas fuelling stations were subsidized, a co-operation then started with a gas company that agreed to set up more stations. Now Stockholm has 150 fuelling stations with renewable fuels, out of a possible 200 in the region. In Sweden, 1,100 stations out of a total of 3,800 offer renewable fuels.

  • 85 % of fuelling stations in Stockholm sell alternative fuels
  • 70 % of fuelling stations in the Stockholm region sell alternative fuels
  • In 1998 Stockholm introduced E10 (10 % ethanol blend in petrol) at several fueling stations. This fuel quality was later prohibited by EUs fuel quality directive. Instead E5 (5% ethanol in petrol) was introduced, which was a success that spread all over Sweden, and subsequently to other EU-countries. Today all regular petrol sold in Sweden contains 5% ethanol, corresponding to approximately 3.5 % of the energy content. For Stockholm this corresponds to an emissions reduction of 100,000 tons CO2/year.

CO2 reduction

Total reductions are 200,000 tons CO2/year, including:

  • 35,000 Clean vehicles in the region = 5.3 % of all vehicles in the City. This reduces 100,000 CO2/ tons/year.
  • E5 biofuel use also reduces some 100,000 tons CO2/year.

Next steps

  • By 2025 100% public transport will be clean vehicles
  • By 2010 100% of waste collection vehicles will be clean vehicles
  • By 2009 100% taxis driving for the public will be clean vehicles
  • By 2009 there will be 2,400 fuelling stations in Sweden offering renewable fuels, out of 3,800 in total.


  • A survey showed that private companies buy almost 70% of the new light duty vehicles. After 2-3 years of use, these vehicles are sold to private citizens. Hence, companies are a main target group to convince to shift to clean vehicles.
  • Car dealers promote their vehicles. They provide a test fleet where companies can use a car for free for one week. They also hold seminars and campaigns.
  • Initially, companies with large fleets, like taxi and delivery services were considered to be the ideal stakeholders, as comparatively few car models and rather few fuelling stations would be needed. It showed however that biogas could not compete economically with diesel taxis and that the available models of biogas transporters were not suitable due to weak performance. Instead, smaller companies with an environmental profile were the initial buyers.
  • Journalists are an important target group as they will spread information to many potential buyers of AFVs and increase the common awareness of both AFVs and the emission problems. Furthermore, they put pressure on fuel providers and contribute to building up a demand for alternative fuels.
  • The co-operation with fuel providers and car dealers has been important to gain interest and credibility among the potential buyers of AFVs. In this co-operation there has been a clear distinction between neutral information and the industry’s marketing.
  • When discussing with private companies it is crucial to have hands-on experience of driving, fuelling and service of alternative vehicles to be trustworthy. To this end, a municipal fleet is a necessity. Setting a good example is also of importance when requiring transport providers to change to AFVs. As bad performance by a vehicle model may be disastrous for the reputation of all AFVs, it is good to test out new models and technologies in a municipal fleet before promoting them widely to private companies.