Being based in Michigan, you’d expect Ford to do much of its cold weather testing right here in The Mitten State, but when its summertime, the automaker heads down south to find frigid temperatures. And Before you click the red ‘X’ in your browser window, we promise we’re not lying to you.
The McKinley Climatic Laboratory at Eglin Air Force Base in the Florida panhandle is a sophisticated, all-weather facility used by the U.S. Air Force to test how aircraft perform in cold weather conditions. Each year, a team of Ford engineers make the trek down south to McKinley and bring with them several global prototype vehicles, putting them through different cold weather tests at the lab when its not possible to find such weather elsewhere in the United States.
Ford says the test facility is perfectly sealed off from the sweltering Florida heat and can easily be cooled down to around minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit in just 10 hours. The facility is also very large, able to accommodate up to 75 global prototype vehicles of all sizes and 54 engineers and technical experts at once.
Some of the cold weather tests at McKinley include idle tests, which consists of idling an engine for weeks as the temperature fluctuates from 40 degrees to minus 40 degrees, and testing different fuels for their volatility in extreme cold. Ford says these procedures help them to improve vehicle quality over all and to improve the ownership experience for Ford drivers in cold weather climates.