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Energy efficiency versus gains in consumer amenities—An example from new cars sold in Sweden

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  • Sprei, Frances
  • Karlsson, Sten

Abstract

Technological developments that increase energy efficiency result in net energy-saving benefits, provided the increased efficiency is not offset by enhanced consumer amenities. This paper analyzes the technology development/consumer amenities trade-off for new cars sold in Sweden between 1975 and 2010. We combine lessons learned from the policies in place and interviews with key actors in the car-purchasing process with statistical modeling of trends in vehicle attributes and technological development. Until 2007, consumer amenities were continuously enhanced, offsetting most of the efficiency gains of technological development; there was no strong policy push toward energy efficiency. In recent years, two major shifts have occurred. First, there has been a shift in the majority of new cars sold, from gasoline-powered engines to diesel engines. Flex-fuel vehicles have also contributed to a decline in the sales-share of pure gasoline engines. The observed shift of fuels, especially to flex-fuels, has been encouraged by policies. Second, after 2007 there have been major technological improvements, while attributes related to consumer amenities have remained flat, reversing the trends so that 77% of the technological development resulted in actual reduction of specific fuel consumption. EU targets, tax reforms, and consumer awareness have contributed to this trend change.

Suggested Citation

  • Sprei, Frances & Karlsson, Sten, 2013. "Energy efficiency versus gains in consumer amenities—An example from new cars sold in Sweden," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 490-499.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:53:y:2013:i:c:p:490-499
    DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2012.11.017
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    1. repec:eee:resene:v:49:y:2017:i:c:p:132-149 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Voltes-Dorta, Augusto & Perdiguero, Jordi & Jiménez, Juan Luis, 2013. "Are car manufacturers on the way to reduce CO2 emissions?: A DEA approach," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 77-86.
    3. Hu, Kejia & Chen, Yuche, 2016. "Technological growth of fuel efficiency in european automobile market 1975–2015," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 142-148.
    4. MacKenzie, Don & Heywood, John B., 2015. "Quantifying efficiency technology improvements in U.S. cars from 1975–2009," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 157(C), pages 918-928.

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    Keywords

    New cars; Fuel economy; Consumer amenities;

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