SUSTAINABLE URBAN MOBILITY
Over the last 100 years, the population of Stockholm has almost tripled to its current level of 800,000 – although this is a slow, steady pace compared with the breakneck urbanization in some Asian megacities. Nonetheless, Strömberg and Westman concern themselves with this issue, along with global warming and the shortage of fossil fuels, viewing these as big challenges for nature and humankind, but also as a challenge for business. However, Strömberg is optimistic that these problems “can be solved.” To play its part in the solution, Scania got involved in the “SymbioCity” initiative launched by the Swedish government in 2008. Companies, institutions, carmakers, fuel producers and infrastructure operators all work together in this network towards a common goal: sustainable urban development. The concept aims to reduce CO2 emissions and to increase the efficiency of energy usage and transport systems.
PAVING THE WAY FOR A CLEAN ENVIRONMENT – Director of Sustainable Solutions Jonas Strömberg (left) and Björn Westmann, Head of Engine Development at Scania.
“Sustainability is the result of many small steps.”
On Skeppsholmen Island, a group of young people board the bus – traveling students who have come from the “Af Chapman”, an impressive three-master that has been used as a floating youth hostel since 1949. Strömberg and Westman have moved on to discuss future automotive technology. Scania is working intensively on hybrid concepts and sent 6 bioethanol powered hybrid drive buses to be tested in Stockholm’s public transport in 2009. The hybrid drive can reduce fuel consumption by up to 25 percent, but has no impact on CO2 emissions from the remaining 75 percent of the fuel that is used. Coming close to a CO2 neutral transport solution calls for the use of biofuels or electric propulsion using electricity from non-CO2 emitting power plants. Batteries for hybrids and electric cars are still very expensive, but costs are expected to come down further.
“We need to combine many things – like driver training, fleet management, biofuels and more energy-efficient vehicles – in order to create really sustainable transport. Many we can – and should – do here and now, but some, like hybrids, are not fully commercial yet,” says Strömberg.
Stockholm’s Scania buses run on bioethanol, which is 50 percent generated as a by-product in a Swedish pulp mill and 50 percent derived from plants such as sugarcane or from agricultural waste products. The advantage of bioethanol is that it reduces CO2 emissions by up to 90 percent compared with regular diesel. In addition, modern fuel-efficient diesel engines can be used without the need for elaborate technical modifications. Ethanol dominates the biofuels market with a share of 90 percent. Strömberg estimates that these fuels could replace at least 20 percent of fossil fuels by 2020.
Scania’s activities do not stop at the development of efficient drives, but extend further, into the field of “intelligent transport.” This includes initiating driver training courses to teach professional drivers to take a more environmentally friendly approach to using the throttle pedal. In this way, fuel consumption could be reduced by up to 10 percent, leading to increasing cost-effectiveness, confirms Westman. And for the bus business, too, the best results can be achieved when Scania works in close cooperation with its customers. Together with a Swedish bus operator Scania devised a solution to increase the availability and reliability of their fleet. Scania took over many of the operator’s workshops and all types of servicing and repairs of the entire fleet. “In close cooperation with customer management and traffic planners we reached a very high uptime and reliability. The fleet’s availability is now an astonishing 99.6 percent,” says Strömberg.
The bus circles the fountain on Sergel’s Square, a reminder of the 1970s, with its striking glass sculpture. From there, it is not far to the main railway station, the central hub of the Stockholm subway, city bus and regional bus routes. The photos are “in the can” and the tour comes to an end before the early evening light fails. During 100 kilometers of city driving, with constant stopping and starting, the bus has consumed just 50 liters of sustainable bioethanol. Which augurs very well for the future of public transport.