The role of market and technical downsizing in reducing carbon emissions from the Swedish new car fleet
Journal article, 2008
Doubts have been raised on whether the car industry will manage to reach the goal set by the Voluntary Agreement with the European Commission, unless tougher measures are taken to reduce CO2 emissions. Taking a stance from the concept of downsizing, we study the historical development of two strategies: first, shifting the market toward smaller cars, market downsizing; second, a technical downsizing, i.e., technical improvements that have enabled a reduction of engine size. We focus on the Swedish new car market from 1975 to 2002. Analysis is done by combining sales statistics with databases over car model parameters. The development of the top and bottom 10% and 20% of the car market of various parameters points to an increased differentiation of the market; still, the market share of small models remains low. We identify the potential for downsizing created by increase of maximum specific torque and power and conclude that these have enabled the cylinder volume to stabilize around 2 l. Increase in engine size has also partly been dampened by the utilization of supercharging. The potential savings of fuel use presented by the introduction of a sixth gear in manual gearboxes have not materialized since gearshifts have not systematically been used to lower engine speed. We conclude that there are few signs of a downsizing in the Swedish new car fleet. From a market perspective, larger cars are still dominant and the technical potentials to reduce engine size have not been harnessed.
Swedish new cars - Fuel consumption - Downsizing - Specific torque and power - Gearshift - Supercharging