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Scania participating in an international drive for ethanol-powered vehicles

Scania, the world’s only manufacturer of ethanol-powered commercial vehicles, is supplying the city buses for use in the BEST consortium’s field trials of ethanol as a vehicle fuel. The initial trials will take place in La Spezia, a coastal city in north-western Italy.

The aim of the BEST consortium (BioEthanol for Sustainable Transport) is to support large-scale use of ethanol as a vehicle fuel. Among other things, it encompasses the building of ethanol refuelling stations and the launch of trials involving both cars and city buses in ten locations throughout the world. In addition to La Spezia, Stockholm, Rotterdam, Dublin, Madrid, Basque Provinces (Spain), Nanyang (China) and São Paulo (Brazil) are taking part. The BEST project was started up by representatives of the Stockholm Public Transport Company (SL) and is partly financed by the EU. The aim is to pave the way for broad-based acceptance of ethanol as a viable alternative fuel for both cars and commercial vehicles.“Ethanol is an excellent renewable fuel for heavy commercial vehicles in urban operation,” says Bengt Rasmusen, MD of Scania Bus Italy. “We regard this project as an important first step towards sustainable urban transport with renewable fuels. The environmental potential is great and Scania is using a proven technology that is fully up to the demands of tough urban operation.”The public transport company in La Spezia, ATC, has 250 buses in its fleet and transports around 18 million passengers per year. ATC will start operating three Scania OmniLink ethanol buses in its city bus fleet in September.Experience from SwedenScania has been supplying ethanol buses to public transport companies in Sweden for 15 years and the technology has produced impressive environmental gains. Ethanol is a renewable fuel that does not give a net CO2 contribution to the atmosphere.Already in 1989, Scania's ethanol engine reached Euro 3 emission levels, which did not become compulsory in 2001. The current ethanol engine generation introduced in 1996 reaches Euro 4 levels, which will be required from October this year. Around 600 ethanol buses have been delivered so far. Scania is now developing its third generation ethanol engine, planned to be ready for introduction in late 2007.Strong reasons to promote alternativesThe interest in renewable alternative fuels is spreading rapidly across the world. One reason is the rising oil price, which makes the alternatives more competitive. Setting up local fuel production based on renewable materials will reduce the dependency on imported petroleum products. Another reason for the interest in ethanol and other renewable fuels is the growing concern about global warming, which is claimed to be caused to a large extent by carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels. Renewable fuels do not give a net contribution of CO2 to the atmosphere and thus reduce the impact of transportation on the greenhouse effect.Robust technologyScania's position is that by sticking to established technologies, the transition to alternative fuels will be smooth and cost-effective. In Scania terms, this means using pure ethanol with 5% ignition improver in a diesel engine that works efficiently according to the diesel principle. Scania started to develop ethanol buses in the mid-1980s in close co-operation with Stockholm Public Transport (SL). After more than 15 years of regular full-scale operation in tough city conditions, SL considers it a fully proven bus technology. There are no operational drawbacks as long as the scheduled maintenance requirements are followed. The buses themselves are completely standard, using regular Scania components. Ethanol can be produced from sugar cane and sugar beets, as well as from cereals and biowaste. The technology is developing continually. Recent findings include producing ethanol from cellulose and burning the residual products in municipal heating or electricity plants.For more information, please contact Urban Wästljung, Public and Environmental Affairs, tel. +46 70 5371619, email urban.wastljung@scania.com