Scania Buses & Coaches

Alternative fuels: Overview

To reduce emissions and conserve the world’s natural resources, Scania sees high potential in a number of short- and long-term fuel solutions.

Scania is continually developing technology that uses alternatives to diesel fuel. And while their viability and development status may vary, our commitment to finding substitutes for fossil fuels doesn’t.

Scania believes biofuels will make an increasing contribution to the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. They can be gradually phased in – some mixed with diesel and some standing on their own merits. And the transition can start right away – there is no reason to wait!

An important prerequisite for sustainability is that the biofuel is produced in a sustainable way. A certification procedure for biofuels is being developed within the European Union.


Scania regards ethanol as the most cost-efficient renewable fuel currently available for urban operation, since it can contribute to a sustainable public transport system without delay.

Scania has produced ethanol bus engines for close to 20 years. The engines are based on diesel combustion, giving up to 40% higher efficiency than Otto engines. The technology is mature and viable for intense everyday city service, as verified by bus operators in several cities.

Ethanol trucks for distribution and refuse collection are now entering the market. Scania undertakes to arrange the contacts, permits and certificates needed to secure fuel supply.


Biodiesel is a liquid renewable diesel fuel produced from esterified plant oil.

“Biodiesel” as used in diesel engines is part of the FAME family of fuels (fatty acid methyl ester) defined by the EN14214 standard. Biodiesel consists of esterified plant oil produced for example from rapeseed (RME, rapeseed methyl ester) or soybeans (SME, soybean methyl ester).

Biodiesel is an easy-to-handle liquid renewable fuel that can be mixed freely with regular diesel. Limited agricultural capacity means that there may be a risk of conflict with food production. Emissions and performance are slightly affected. Provided that the need for special service intervals is observed, Scania permits the use of up to 100% FAME fuel in some of its engines. Operation should always take place in coordination with a Scania dealer.

Synthetic diesel

Synthetic diesel has excellent combustion properties and may be produced from renewable or fossil materials.

Synthetic diesel produced from biomass (BTL, biomass-to-liquid) has great potential as an alternative fuel. It provides excellent preconditions for clean combustion as it is ideally suited to high-efficiency diesel engines and it can be mixed freely with regular diesel.

It can be produced from various raw materials including biomass, waste and fossil natural gas. Biobased, carbon dioxide savings may amount to up to 80%.


Gas can be used for fuelling heavy vehicles, although the technology has some limitations. Biogas is a renewable fuel with good emission characteristics.

Gas is favoured by some operators and also some authorities for several reasons. Emissions are low and noise reduced, but since the engine operates according to the Otto principle, efficiency is lower than for a diesel engine.

With biogas supplied locally, e.g. from waste or sewage plants, gas operation has excellent emission reduction properties. The carbon dioxide reduction is then almost 100%. Natural gas is not an ideal replacement for diesel fuel since it is fossil, although emissions of regulated substances are handily reduced.

The main drawbacks are the need to carry gas onboard the vehicle in heavy and bulky gas tanks and the complexity of the supply infrastructure. Hence, weight limitations may give a short operating range. Gas is unlikely to play a major role in long-haulage because of these limitations.


Hydrogen is not an alternative in the short term, but may prove viable together with fuel cells some time beyond 2020.

Powertrains that comprise a fuel cell and an electric motor could be an interesting alternative – in the very long term. A hydrogen fuel cell is reasonably efficient in heavy-duty transport, but no method to transport sufficient amounts of hydrogen gas on a vehicle currently exists. Also, hydrogen must be produced from renewable raw materials, a technology which is not viable at present. Scania has participated in a European project to develop a concept fuel cell bus.