Electric Traffic Helsinki Test Bed project proves EVs work just fine at -15F

From the special cold weather package in the Nissan Leaf to the "sweater and gloves" Chevrolet Volt, it's no secret that battery-powered cars can have some trouble with non-equatorial winter temperatures. The good news is that some of that trouble is overblown fear mongering, as proved by a group of EV fans recently proved in Helsinki, Finland while the temperature was a wee bit chilly.

Called the "coolest experiment on planet," nine electric vehicles spent the day driving from the Helsinki Olympic Stadium to the Senate Square at the front of Helsinki Cathedral, making sure to hit some of the city's major streets and the shore of frozen Gulf of Finland. The drive was organized by the Electric Traffic Helsinki Test Bed project to coincide with the World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 Design Weekend. The vehicles included two Peugeot iOns, a Mercedes-Benz Vito E-CELL, a Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid, a Nissan Leaf, an ä-Corolla (a converted Toyota Corolla), a Tazzari Zero, the Electric RaceAbout (which didn't drive) and an Elcat, an "electric minivan that was manufactured in Finland during the 80s and 90s."

Joona Kallio, the group's creative director, told AutoblogGreen that, "It was sunny day, but -26.5 C [-15.7 F] in the morning and keeping temperature below -20 C [-4 F] all day, it was really tough condition for camera equipment and the video crew – but the EVs just kept running without any problems." Aside from the vehicles' ranges being diminished, of course. Check out a video of the event after the jump.

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WDC 2012 Helsinki EV Drivers take on freezing challenge

Electric Cars keep on rolling in -20 Centigrade

Electric Traffic Helsinki Test Bed project (www.electrictraffic.fi) organized a gathering of local EVs and their drivers as a part of World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 Design Weekend program on Sunday 5th of February. Vehicles drove in procession through downtown Helsinki and ended their trip at the historical centre of the city on Senate Square. Although the thermometer showed 20 degrees below freezing point – a temperature that could challenge even many older internal combustion engine vehicles – the participating EVs experienced no problem whatsoever.

Altogether nine different electric cars participated in the Sunday Drive. There were two Peugeot iOns from Helsingin Energia, one of which was heading the procession. Other participants included Finnish car importer and dealer Veho's Mercedes-Benz Vito E-CELL – the first mass-produced electric van available in Finnish market, energy company Fortum's Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid, Nissan Leaf that is Finland's first electric taxicab, ä-Corolla – Toyota Corolla that has been converted electric by technology from Aalto University, Tazzari Zero owned by Helsinki car sharing start-up Olive Cars and last, but by no means least privately-owned Elcat – electric minivan that was manufactured in Finland during the 80s and 90s.

None of the vehicles experienced any problems starting or driving in the freezing cold. Naturally the heaters in the cars took away generous portion of the driving range, but the temperature inside the vehicles was comparable to internal combustion engine cars during winter. Finnish charging equipment manufacturer, Ensto, had also erected a temporary charging pole on the Senate Square for the drivers to use.

The video about the event may be found at:

The picture gallery of the event may be found at:

More information about the event and Electric Traffic Helsinki Test Bed Project may be found at our website www.electrictraffic.fi

Electric Traffic Helsinki Test Bed is an R&D and networking project that looks into the design of services within an electric traffic ecosystem of the future. Behind the project is a unique private- public partnership between 20 Finnish and international companies, 5 cities, 3 educational and research institutes and local and national authorities. It is the largest of Tekes (the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation) Electric Vehicle Systems (EVE) program projects and one of World Design Capital 2012 Helsinki projects.

The companies behind the project include energy companies like Siemens, Fortum and Helsingin Energia, infranet solutions provider Eltel Networks, charging equipment manufacturer Ensto, construction group Lemminkäinen, electrical components wholesaler SLO, vehicle importer Veho, HOK-Elanto – a retail, grocery store and restaurant operating co-operative and many others.

The project companies are building a fully-functionin EV ecosystem – including a test fleet of several hundred EVs – to Helsinki Capital Region complete with business model that allows an EV driver to take advantage of all the charging points of different electricity providers without the need of becoming a direct client of them all.

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