Swedes hold European record for gas-guzzlers

Swedes are more likely than any other nationality in western Europe to drive gas guzzling cars, according to new official figures submitted to the European Commission.

The figures from the Swedish National Road Administration (Vägverket), show that the average new petrol or diesel car sold in Sweden in 2006 burns 7.8 litres per 100 kilometres, compared to an average of 6.5 litres in the 15 old EU countries together.

Cars in Sweden were slightly more efficient last year than in 2005, when the average new car burned 8.1 litres per 100 kilometres.

But the Swedish love of large cars is still leaving the country trailing in Europe.

If fuel efficiency in Swedish cars was as good as that in other old-EU countries, the country would have used 73 million litres less fuel and emitted 130,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere last year, if the figures are to be believed.

The real amount of CO2 released is likely to be lower in reality, as the statistics do not count the increasing number of cars that run on alternative fuels such as ethanol. Some 36,611 greener cars were registered in 2006, accounting for 13.5 percent of all private cars registered.

“We have made these calculations based on EU rules, which contain nothing about biofuels,” Håkan Johansson, of the administration’s environmental division, told The Local.

When measuring the fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of so-called flexifuel cars, which can run on both ethanol and petrol, only these cars’ consumption of petrol is taken into account.

“CO2 emissions will in reality be lower,” said Johansson.

“The real CO2 emissions depend on how often the cars drive on ethanol and how much they use petrol.”

Even alternative fuel cars need to become more efficient, Johansson continued.

“Biofuel vehicles are currently not so fuel efficient. Average fuel consumption in flexifuel vehicles has increased after Saab released its new model,” he said.