Energy efficiency versus gains in consumer amenities—An example from new cars sold in Sweden
Journal article, 2013

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.

New cars

Fuel economy

Consumer amenities


Frances Sprei

Chalmers, Energy and Environment, Physical Resource Theory

Sten Karlsson

Chalmers, Energy and Environment, Physical Resource Theory

Energy Policy

0301-4215 (ISSN)

Vol. 53 490-499

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Areas of Advance



Subject Categories

Other Environmental Engineering

Vehicle Engineering

Energy Systems



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