Yes, at first glance some vehicles in the Far (or should I say the very Far) North look like the exaggerated, colorful rally crates that we pushed through the sandpit as children. Rows of big lights ahead of the bumper and sometimes rows of lights high up on the roof. That really offends the average German’s sense of aesthetics. We who adore our thoughtfully designed and smooth metal icons, cast in one piece and with no gashes or gaps. And then you get something like that. Bubble-like bolted-on light dispensers, far removed from the original automotive concept. In front of a DIY store in North Sweden Thor Persson sees me laugh and pulls me aside with a serious expression on his face.

Yes, Swedes dance and sing around the midsommar pole. Very funny. But what comes shortly afterwards is anything but funny – it’s a long dark night. The nearer you get to the polar circle the less you see the sun during the Scandinavian winter months. Already sparsely populated, Norway, Finland and Sweden feel well and truly devoid of human life when you leave the brightly lit city in your car. Many Swedes go hundreds of kilometers on country roads through dark forests and mountainous fjord landscapes without so much as a glimmer of light. Darkness; almost impenetrable darkness from October to February, pretty much around the clock. Thor lovingly caresses one of the pencil beams at the front.

Yes, focused oversized headlights in addition to the factory-fitted light sources make sense in this darkness. In the winter when it’s wet and icy, the state of the country roads changes overnight, and potholes can cause serious accidents at double-digit sub-zero temperatures. And there are real moose. In the wild they aren’t the cute cuddly toys in the kid’s room, but unpredictable forest inhabitants weighing more than 500 kg. Colliding with these giants is usually fatal for all involved. If you can see further ahead you’ll see more. This advantage is questionable from an aesthetic point of view, but it can save lives. Thor says there are more than 30,000 lumen on his bumper alone.

Yes, even the monsters on the roof aren’t the product of any unfulfilled childhood wishes. Headlights that are mounted high up shine even further. And the flood beams on the side also illuminate large areas next to the road. Up north it starts to snow early and it usually won’t really stop until spring. Once the masses of snow that have been cleared off the road pile up along the side, headlights mounted at the fronts only illuminate the scene like a white tunnel. The things on top of the roof shine beyond it and turn even the darkest night around the vehicle into day.

Yes, that was a lot of yeses. I guess Thor Persson is right. I intend to check out anything unfamiliar in the future before making fun of it. At the annual inspection in Sweden (which is called bilbesiktning) nobody looks at the number of additional headlights. Swedes can install and switch on as many lights on their car as they like. In countries adhering to the ECE norm, a maximum of six visible lights is the general rule. To be precise, the number is irrelevant as long as the “reference number“, the light intensity stated on the lamps, does not exceed 100 in total. Hardly anyone knows that, though. But then in Germany it’s not as dark as in Sweden.

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