Where are the biogas cars?

Stefan Hermansson is the car enthusiast in Växjö who wanted to sell biogas cars to Ikea. And that’s where the challenges started. There was neither fuel nor cars in Växjö. Stefan Hermansson joined forces with Alexander Enulescu to put that right.

Showroom for electric and biogas cars in Växjö

The final stop on the biogas journey, in which LiU researchers and partners within the Biogas Research Center set out on a three-day trip around southern Sweden, concerns a lack of biogas cars.

Stefan Hermansson Stefan Hermansson Photo credit: Monica WestmanStefan Hermansson has tinkered and traded cars of most models and makes as long as he can remember. One of his largest customers, Ikea, wanted to change supplier in order to obtain biogas-fuelled cars, because Växjö could offer neither cars nor fuel.

Today, Stefan Hermansson has a showroom for electric and biogas cars in Växjö, and works closely with Alexander Enulescu, managing director of Konvegas, which converts petrol-driven cars to gas-driven.

Lack of fuel

Ikea got the biogas cars it wanted. Another challenge was the lack of fuel, so Stefan Hermansson founded Småländska bränslen, which today operates a number of biogas stations in southern Sweden.

“This is where the challenges started,” he says.

Växjö municipality tested two biogas-driven buses, then ordered 40. Alvesta biogas could produce the gas, but it produced significantly more than Småländska bränslen could sell.

Entrepreneur and live-wire Stefan Hermansson looked for advice from his contacts and found his way to Eon, which agreed to act as security and as intermediate.

“The entrepreneurs in Alvesta are amazing: we were up and running at full speed just 14 days after starting operations. They deliver on time, and the venture is already making a profit.” Stefan Hermansson is copious in his praise.

Market survey among parents

The demand for biogas cars was, however, not as large as he had expected, despite the fact that biogas brings with it solely advantages.

Alexander Enulescu at KonvegasAlexander Enulescu at Konvegas Photo credit: Monica Westman“I carried out a market survey among the parents where my children go to school and found out that myths about biofuel abound. They had heard that it was too expensive, that the tank rusts rapidly, etc., etc.,” he says.

He now offers 10 years guarantee for the fuel tanks, and offers reasonable financing and service for cars that cost between SEK 40,000 and 300,000.

“We must dispel the uncertainty,” he says.

Småländska bränslen recently opened a biogas station in Ljungby, using a grant from Klimatklivet.

And the work of converting petrol-driven cars to biogas, or to hybrid electricity+biogas, continues at Konvegas. They plan on 300-500 in the coming autumn, and hope for even greater numbers next year.

Still lack of cars

Electric and biogas cars in VäxjöElectric and biogas cars in Växjö Photo credit: Monica WestmanIt’s not easy to find a suitable biogas car, and the second-hand cars that are offered for sale are rapidly snapped up.

“The governmental inquiry, published in 2013, into achieving a vehicle park that is independent of fossil fuels showed that the expectations for the use of biofuels and electricity are large. A precondition for this development is that the vehicles that customers demand are available. For gas-powered vehicles, many models are available globally, but only a few reach Sweden. Since most new cars sold are company cars, it is important that attractive new biofuel cars are available. The Audi A4 may be suitable for filling this need, since Volvo has decided for the second time in its history to leave the gas-fuelled vehicle segment,” comments Mats Eklund, director of the BRC and professor in environmental technology and management at LiU.

Read more about the Biogas tour, links below

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