ACROSS THE ARCTIC ON WHEELS
Polar storms, extreme cold, crevasse zones… the vehicles transformed by Arctic Trucks are up to any challenge.
They are able to satisfy the needs of scientific expeditions, rescuers and a growing number of companies. The Icelandic venture’s next area of challenge: deserts scorched by the sun.
Their vehicles have already run more than 200’000 kilometres across the Antarctic, in temperatures as low as -58 degrees centi- grade. Their longest expedition in this polar re- gion covered 9600 km in 82 days (and nights). In 2007 these extreme four-wheel-drive cars were tested by the presenters of the television series Top Gear on board. This famous British television show, with a 350 million audience, set out on the extraordinary adventure of making it to the magnetic north pole by car.
The origins of Arctic Trucks date back to the early nineties, when Toyota Iceland start- ed customizing its four-wheel-drive vans to confront the island’s harsh winters. Today, independent from the Japanese company, the company transforms off-road models of several car manufacturers. With every im- provement and innovative solution, it has de- veloped considerable know-how that meets the needs of a growing number of various customers: scientific expeditions, telecom, energy and petrol companies, rescuers or pri- vate adventurers.
In order to meet particularly sophisticated re- quests, it is not uncommon for technicians to work on tailor-made solutions. For instance, to honour an order from the Swedish and Norwegian Defence, Arctic Trucks have fully
transformed hundreds of cars with high tech military equipment, armoured with excellent performance on and off-road.
To be able to face the challenging terrain, carry enough fuel and supplies to cross con- tinents unsupported and survive the extreme cold, the vehicle frame, drivetrain and body are rebuilt. An additional electrical system is installed to drive the various specialized equipment and accessories needed to com- plete the challenge.
Since it is hard to find large tyres that perform well on snow and ice, the Icelandic company has undertaken to design and develop their own tyres, using a frost-resistant compound embedded with nails. “They have to cope with the worst conditions, explains Örn Thomsen, director of Arctic Truck Norway, meaning rough winds and temperatures below -40°!”
In addition to supplying motor vehicles for polar expeditions, the company is also spe- cializing in organization, training, assistance and logistics with a staff able to cope with the hardest conditions in the world. Obviously, one has to be ready to face all possible dan- gers when venturing into the Far North, even through zones full of crevasses. The company is perfectly up to these situations: in Novem-
ber 2010, with the help of its high performance vehicles, rapid intervention was possible fol- lowing a distress call issued by the Novo air- base in Antarctica. The life of a person stuck in a deep crevasse could be saved.
Arctic Trucks also strives to reduce its vehicles’ impact on the environment. Their expertise and technical improvements keep reducing the environmental impact. These vehicles are 3 to 5 times faster than traditional tracked ve- hicles and they use 5 to 7 times less fuel.
Twenty-five years after its creation, Arctic Trucks is more active than ever. The compa- ny is now present in eighteen countries, from Norway to Russia, Kazakhstan and the Emir- ates, where technicians have become top spe- cialists in adapting four-wheel-drive cars to other extreme conditions, such as mountains and deserts. “The vehicles that we transform for the Middle East have to be able to face blis- tering desert heat of +50, tells Örn Thomsen. This means a 100° difference compared to the temperatures that our polar vehicles have to resist!”
Busy customizing the latest Toyota Hilux mod- el, Arctic Trucks is planning to expand into new countries with harsh environmental con- ditions, such as Australia and USA.