Cold environment testing

Cold temperatures affect pretty much everything from preventing plants from growing and making plastics more brittle to reducing the efficiency of car batteries. Cold environment testing is exactly as it sounds, the process of testing something in a cold environment. 

One of the greatest, and most important, sectors for cold environment testing in the automotive industry is testing both the performance of fossil fuel-driven cars and electric vehicles, as well as their different systems and components. 

Types of environmental testing

There are a plethora of different types of winter environmental testing for vehicles. Everything from testing the traction of a car’s wheels and the performance of brakes on ice and snow, to testing and observing how a car battery performs in cold temperatures.

Another important cold environment testing is the testing of the materials it is created from. Increased brittleness, frailty, and stiffness are a few of the effects that a cold environment can induce. 

How to test in cold weather

The first option to carry out cold environmental testing is simply to step out the door during winter. But considering testing often needs to be repeated several times to make sure that the result is reliable, you need a place where the same test can be repeated without any change in the environment. Therefore, many of the global leading companies take a trip up north (depending on where they are located) to the winter test region in Lapland in Sweden.

The winter test region hosts a plethora of different testing facilities and companies, providing test tracks as well as cold chambers – the second type of cold environment testing we’ll talk about next.

Cold chambers allow for repeatable tests of both vehicles and separate components to be carried out in a controlled climatic environment. It allows you to perform controlled environmental testing in order to evaluate the performance of different materials and systems when exposed to extreme cold temperatures over a longer period of time.

The necessity of cold environmental testing for the vehicle industry

Today, the autonomy industry is far more concerned with testing, demonstrating, and deploying smart vehicles in fair-weather locations. This warm-weather bias could potentially limit where autonomous smart cars can be deployed in the future, or cause problems if the car is rolled out in colder climates too quickly. 

The challenges posed by winter to both robot cars and traditional vehicles are global. For example, when the temperatures get cold, most car batteries won’t be able to deliver as much current as they’re supposed to do – this goes for traditional car batteries as well. 

Where snow and rain can obscure and confuse sensors, hide markings on the road, and make a car perform differently.