Winter begins in autumn in Arvidsjaur in Northern Sweden and nearby Arjeplog: the daytime low temperatures fall regularly below zero Celsius as early as October; and they only go back up again in May. The weather station records an average 186 freezing days per year, the mean temperature for the year stands at almost exactly zero degrees.
High levels of precipitation are also normal here – so anyone seeking snow in the colder half of the year is in the right place. And the snow lies: as a rule, the daytime highs only climb back over freezing point in April.
The two towns are situated on the 65th and 66th degrees of latitude, just below the Arctic Circle, and have been an important winter destination for the Daimler Buses test teams for many years now. Driving dynamics tests conducted on the frozen lakes around Arjeplog are high on the agenda here. By driving in circles on defined ice-covered surfaces, for example, they are looking for the Electronic Stability Program (ESP®) to prove itself in extreme conditions.
Specialist "icemakers", based in the area, prepare tailor-made driving tracks for the tests on new buses and coaches and on new components: as soon as the lakes freeze over, the snow is regularly cleared from the frozen surface to ensure the ice in these places freezes to be extra thick. This increases its load-bearing capability, allowing the vehicles to drive on it. In accordance with the testers' wishes, the driving lanes can be roughed up, sheet ice or almost impassible flat surfaces covered in a fine mist of water. The perfect prerequisites for test driving, as conditions are unchanging.
Under the metre-thick ice covering the lakes, the dark waters go down to a depth of more than 200 metres. But there is no danger, however, as the disciplined test drivers always stick to the prepared tracks: the ice can take weights of up to 40 t.