On the road
At the end of 2010, there were 2,877,484 registered passenger cars in Finland. The stock of passenger cars grew by 3.6% during the year. The biggest relative increases in numbers of registrations were recorded for mopeds (up by 8.4 %) and trucks weighing more than 3,500 kg (5.3 %). These data, complied by Statistics Finland, are based on the Vehicular and Driver Data Register of the Finnish Transport Safety Agency (Trafi) and the vehicle register of Ålands Motorfordonsbyrå.
The Electric Traffic Helsinki Test Bed project has recently organized a gathering of local EVs and their drivers as a part of the World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 Design Weekend. Video courtesy of www.
Hybrid Electric Vehicles
The number of hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) on the road in Finland is still relatively small at roughly 3,000 registered vehicles (as of December 2010), but this figure is increasing due to carbon dioxide-based (CO2-based) taxation of cars and consumers’ growing desire to appear “green”.
Consumer confidence has been boosted by the successful results for HEVs (Toyota’s Prius and Auris, Honda’s CR-Z) in the most recent “Winter Test” conducted by car magazine Tekniikan Maailma, which may have significant impact for future sales. The Winter Test annual series began in 1980 using laboratory and on-the-road tests specifically for cars in the colder, Nordic climates that pose unique challenges for EV technology.
The Toyota hybrid Auris rated well in performance, fuel consumption, cold-start emissions, and passenger compartment (cabin) heating performance. The cabin-heating performance is a particularly important issue for customers in Nordic climates. These results represent a victory for HEVs in Finland, as hybrid and electric vehicles have generally been considered to have weak cabin-heating performance, and the positive test results are considered to be from a reliable source.
EVs and PHEVs
Electric and plug-in-hybrid electric vehicles (EVs and PHEVs) are still a niche market in Finland, with fewer than 100 registered. According to the existing policy provisions, there will be no direct government incentives for electric cars in the future. All low-emission technologies are supported with taxation.
However, the new “Systems for Electric Vehicles” research program, launched at the end of 2010 by Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation, will most probably include a fleet test and demonstration project with a few hundred electric cars. This is also known as the EVE program on research page.
Helsinki Demonstration Project
In January 2011, the Helsinki Metropolitan Area hosted an event for the launch of a new program to put 500 electric cars on the road from 2011−2012. There were over 40 signatory parties on the program’s “expression of will”, among them four cities of Helsinki Metropolitan area, Aalto University, and companies such as Nokia Siemens Networks and Fortum. Signatory parties formed a steering group for the cluster venture led by Nokia Siemens Networks.
The aim of the gathered parties is to build a world-class innovation cluster for businesses related to electric vehicles, intelligent traffic systems, and smart grids in Finland. Preliminary estimates indicate the cluster could generate as much as 10 billion Euros worth of new business. To make the cluster effective, large anchor companies—those operating in energy, utility or related service business— are needed. Their risk-taking and investing capabilities will enable the participation of innovative start-ups and SMEs.
A large Finnish vehicle importer and one of the companies involved, Veho Group, has already conducted negotiations with its principals to secure the availability of the needed electric vehicles whose global production is still very limited. The first cars of the test fleet arrived in 2011. Veho Group will provide an opportunity to try them out.
Initially the test fleet cars will be offered to companies and various organizations. The aim of the fleet is to collect crucial information about the performance of electric vehicles in northern conditions. Several slow-charging and fast-charging stations in the capital area will be installed.