Forms of the test have been performed in Sweden since the 1970s. The colloquial and internationally better-known name for the test was coined in 1997 by the German Süddeutsche Zeitung after the Swedish motor magazine Teknikens Värld flipped a Mercedes-Benz A-Class in a test ostensibly made to measure the car’s ability to avoid hitting a moose.
In reality, the test is rather constructed to simulate, for example, a reversing car or a child rushing out onto the road. This is because it is more likely that the moose will continue across the road than remain in place or turn back, making it more advisable to brake hard and try to slip behind the animal than to swerve in front of it.
The test is performed on a dry road surface. Traffic cones are set up in an S shape to simulate the obstacle, road, and road edges. The car to be tested has one belted person in each available seat and weights in the trunk to achieve maximum load.
When the driver comes onto the track, he or she quickly swerves into the oncoming lane to avoid the object and then immediately swerves back to avoid oncoming traffic. The test is repeated with an increased speed until the car skids, knocks down cones, or spins around. This usually happens at speeds of about 70–80 km/h (45–50 mph) in the best cases.