The winter test region in Northern Sweden is the place in the world that annually brings together the most actors in the automotive sector at one and the same time. Here, the ongoing global conversion of the transport sector to electromobility is very clear, which has led to the joint organization of car test companies, SPGA, initiating the feasibility study "RETRII". As an early result of this Vinnova-financed study, the company "TestInfra Sweden AB" is now being formed. The aim is to secure the global leading position in electromobility and, as a result, also a rapid transition to sustainable transport in Europe and globally. The global presence of testing customers means that the region is several years ahead of the rest of society in terms of effect and impact on the same. Northern Sweden therefore offers unique conditions for building knowledge ahead of the imminent widespread introduction of vehicles with battery and fuel cell technology.
- We believe in a strong interest in hydrogen, but the local impact of battery cars is already clearly felt, says Daniel Ek, CEO of Tjintokk AB.
- In a year or so, we within SPGA estimate that basically all cars tested in the region will be rechargeable. The bulk of the testing will take place inside our test facilities and we already have an extensive charging infrastructure inside the gates. However, the last steps in the testing take place on public roads and public fast charging is basically non-existent in the test region.
In addition to the investigation of needs and time perspective in the development, testing and integration of electromobility, the RETRII pilot study also has a work package regarding organization and structure. The analysis from that particular part of the study now means that the four largest test companies, even before the study is finished, have made a decision to form a jointly owned company.
Michael Lindeman, CEO of Icemakers Test AB, continues:
- We have a structure in society that clearly inhibits rapid change. The grid companies are subject to monopoly laws and cannot act proactively and the rest of the power sector is divided into profit units which, in isolation, find it difficult, in the build-up phase, to find profitability in public fast charging. Lack of chargers makes the electric car consumer wait, with the consequence that the oil companies can easily maintain their market shares vis-à-vis the power sector. And the same mechanisms also delay the testing of future vehicles.
Mikael Hallin, CEO, Colmis AB, adds:
- The municipality of Arjeplog has never operated petrol stations and it has not been the task of the car test companies either. But someone has to address the issue and through TestInfra Sweden AB our ambition is to be able to lead the public infrastructure process, gather a wider interest and create quick results in the form of infrastructure on site in Norrbotten and Västerbotten. A driving party is needed to lead the development, speed up the national dialogue and ensure that Northern Sweden continues to be a globally leading test area with all the advantages that entails.
Jonas Jalar, CEO at Arctic Falls, concludes:
- Northern Sweden offers unique conditions to accelerate the global development towards sustainability in the transport sector, both regarding vehicles and charging infrastructure. The transition needs to happen quickly and here there is an important role for Sweden to play.
- We have 8 test winters left until 2030, there is much that is untested and in the pre-commercial phase that electromobility is in, it is not possible to wait to solve the needs of infrastructure for test, demo and integration with "traditional market forces" alone. Industry, academia and society must work together and we hope that our initiative will attract more people to stop around this important cause.
The plan is to start on a small scale, in the winter of 2021-22. However, the ambition is an investment in the 100 million range and to engage a wide range of stakeholders and investors already now in the work of shaping the integration test bed that the whole of Europe needs to speed up the transition work. Robert Granström, Chairman of the Swedish Proving Ground Association, welcomes interested parties to get in touch to establish cooperation and find solutions.