All to make sure they can stand up to the chilly temperatures.
Most vehicles will never face sub-zero temperatures, but automakers need to ensure that their latest models can stand up to the intense cold. That is why General Motors operates a full-scale permanent cold-weather test facility in Kapuskasing, Ontario, to guarantee all of its new vehicles won't quit even when the temperature dips below comfortable levels. GM tests around 95% of its North American vehicles at the Kapuskasing Proving Grounds, including the 2021 Cadillac Escalade, the 2021 Cadillac CT4-V, and the 2022 Chevrolet Bolt.
The facility officially opened for business in 1973, but GM has technically been using it since 1941, testing vehicles for the United States government. GM gave CarBuzz an exclusive virtual tour of the facility, where we learned how the company's latest vehicles are torture-tested for maximum durability.
Before they go on sale, all GM North American vehicle programs must complete cold weather exposure testing to prove their durability. The facility is fully-equipped to test GM's latest electric vehicles with charging infrastructure that can generate 2.5 megawatts of electricity (enough to power 1,500 homes). We've already seen GMC prove the upcoming Hummer EV's cold weather capability by doing massive donuts in the snow.
Kapuskasing sits on 272 acres and contains two testing lines, a 3.6-kilometer test track with Wi-Fi and a smart camera system, a 13-vehicle garage, a battery lab, and 30 cold cells (pictured below) that can hit temperatures below negative 45 degrees celsius.
Using these facilities, GM tests individual vehicle components to ensure they can stand up to abuse. The batteries, for example, are drained to specific charge levels, then tested to ensure they can still start the car. If a vehicle can survive this place, it can survive virtually anywhere.
GM says its Cold Weather Vehicle Line evaluates anywhere from 150 to 250 vehicles annually for early cold weather development tests. The Cold Weather Exposure Line only tests around 30 vehicles annually. When it isn't cold enough for these tests during the summer months, GM mostly performs upgrades to the Kapuskasing facility, making sure it's ready for the next testing season.