We dialed a random Swede, talked about not driving Volvos

Sometimes you get a Brit, but it was still a fun talk.

The Swedish Number is now a thing. It's a cool thing. You dial, a random Swede picks up, and you chat. Or, in my case, you dial and a random Brit living in Sweden for the past six year picks up and you chat. Since I was calling on behalf of Autoblog, when I got Martin from the small coastal town of Sundsvall, on the phone, we talked about cars, Volvos (natch), and cold-weather testing. Oh, and about plugging in his regular Toyota Prius.

ABG: I was able to come to Sweden and test Volvos a month or so ago. Do you drive a Volvo?

Martin: [laughs] No. I think Volvo is a fantastic car. It truly is an amazing car, but no. My girlfriend has a company car, so we drive a hybrid Toyota Prius.

ABG: And how does that work in the cold winters?

It obviously cuts down on the environmental problems.

Martin: No problem at all. Because we have these cold winters, like you do get in the States as well, where we park our cars, we've got electricity posts where we can plug in the cars. Motor car engines have a heater, so you can have the heater going for some time before you get into the car. So it warms up the engine and there's a socket inside the car to warm up the inside of the car as well. It's very efficient. You just need to remember to set the timer when you climb out of the car and connect the cable. It obviously cuts down on the environmental problems as well because your car is already warm before you start them.

ABG: I know that makes them overall more efficient, I just didn't know it could work with any car. It used to be you would keep the diesel engine blocks warm, but this works for pretty much any car in Sweden?

Martin: Yes. Our temperatures here can vary. We do tend to get roundabout -18 to -25C [0 to -15F], where I live, sometimes. Normally, in the winter, we always plug the car in to make it more environmentally friendly, for starters, and then it's a nice warm car when you get in. The coldest I remember it getting here was -36 [-33F]. In the north of Sweden they've had, on record, -56 [-69F].

ABG: That's too cold.

Martin: That is cold, yeah. Most countries, now, use the north of Sweden to test their cars because of the ice.

Volvo S90 Prototype
Volvo S90 Prototype
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ABG: That's actually why I came over there, to test out the new XC90s and S90s.

Martin: Is that your job, then?

ABG: I don't test the cars for the companies, but I test them for Autoblog. They'll invite us to test the vehicles so we can see for ourselves what the vehicles do in cold weather.

Martin: That's fantastic. Everyone talks about these places in the north of Sweden and you think there must be other places in the world but they've become so popular now that all the major companies in the world come here. I think that's brilliant.

The Swedish Number is a project by the Swedish Tourist Association. Martin said he has gotten about two dozen calls so far and his girlfriend talked to a reporter from the BBC. Given that the service has gotten about 17,000 calls in the three days it's been live, we're gonna guess at least 16,000 journalists have dialed in. To try talking to a random Swede yourself from the US, dial 0046 771 793 336. International charges apply.

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