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Success Story, Winter Test

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Hybrids exceed expectations in 2011 Nordic “Winter Test” 

Future sales of hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) in Finland and other Nordic countries may have gotten a huge boost after the successful 2011 “Winter Test” results for three HEV models in the Finnish magazine Tekniikan Maailma (The World of Technology). The magazine’s annual “Winter Test” feature began in 1980 to assess how cars perform in the colder Nordic climates that pose unique challenges for all vehicles, and especially for EVs. Roughly 20 cars were tested in cold-weather conditions for a wide variety of driving and equipment criteria in areas of normal use for driving, braking, acceleration in snow and ice conditions, fuel consumption, and emissions.   

The HEVs tested in this group were the Toyota Prius, the Toyota Auris, and the Honda CR-Z. The Toyota hybrid Auris came in tied for 3rd place in the test with an 8.7 composite score based on overall performance, fuel consumption, cold-start emissions, and cabin-heating performance. The Honda CR-Z scored 8.2 for 11th place, while the Volvo S60 ranked highest for overall performance with an 8.9 score and placed 1st.

Cabin-heating performance is a particularly important issue for customers in Nordic climates. Hybrid and electric vehicles have generally been considered to have weak cabin-heating performance.High-efficiency engines have very little residual waste heat for use in this application. Both cold and warm engine tests were done on the road and in a laboratory for warming from a cold start — typically -20⁰ to -35⁰ C.  Surprisingly, Toyota ranked first for cabin heating. Now, Nordic consumers can be confident in a hybrid’s overall winter and cabin-heating performance.

Contributed by

Jussi Suomela  Aalto University