Testing Facilities

We’ve got consistant cold.

Vehicle and snowmobiles companies have been winter and cold testing in Thompson since the mid 1980s using a variety of frozen lakes, secluded terrain, isolated roads as well as local mechanical suppliers and services and warehouse bays and facilities. Different times of winter provide different temperature conditions.

In Thompson, snow comes early. Among Canadian cities, we have the third greatest total snowfall in October and November. And with an average 103 days annually with a daily low temperature of -20 C (-4 F) or below, Thompson provides a testing season far longer than most other centres offering winter weather testing.

Due to privacy and confidentiality needed by some companies, we work with manufacturers to provide those parameters. Equipment shown herein may be shown as dated on purpose.


Car, truck, and diesel manufacturers use Thompson as a base for a variety of cold, snow, ice, endurance and performance testing. Numerous North American and European vehicle manufacturers have tested their products on isolated frozen lakes and roads. Some companies come in mid–winter for extreme cold testing — cold soaks, heaters, defrosters, gaskets, etc. If anything is going to break, it happens at -30 or -40 ̊Celsius. Just ask the locals! Other testing can be undertaken in early or late winter when temperatures are less cold, yet still conducive to snow ingestion, traction, durability testing, and more. We have a long season to meet your needs.


With more than 30,000 movements a year at Thompson’s regional airport, the infrastructure exists to accommodate most types of winter and cold testing for propeller and small jet aircrafts, as well as helicopters. Some testers seek a unique atmospheric corridor that exists in mid– Manitoba where icing clouds form. Such naturally occurring elements provide real world conditions for testing. Aerospace personnel find that the same jet stream, as found in Alaska, flows through northern Manitoba at a similar cold temperature range. Travel distance to Thompson for aircraft and personnel is much less, thereby achieving significant cost savings.


Manufacturers and independent race teams can undertake all types of testing here… suspension testing, shock adjustments, acceleration, calibration, etc. The test possibilities in wilderness snow conditions are unlimited. At 715 feet (218 metres) above sea level, Thompson is better suited for general testing than teams having to drive to high altitudes to find snow. Due to Thompson’s cold and extended winter season, ice on the lakes in spring is often three to four feet thick. Early snow in November and frozen lakes in April and May provide a long window for testing in Thompson… a tremendous advantage for developing next year’s models.

Heavy Equipment

Manufacturers can bring their equipment, diesel engines, and semi trailers to drive and test in real world winter and cold conditions on paved highways, frozen lakes, and snow packed gravel roads. Determining durability, efficiencies, and performance of diesels can often be tested at extreme cold temperatures or over snow ingested roads on frozen lakes. It can be the ultimate real world testing in the toughest conditions possible. If it works here, it can work anywhere.

Electric Vehicles

The rapid growth of electric vehicles with lithium batteries as their power source requires a great amount of cold weather testing to seek improvements in durability, performance, and longevity. Thompson’s winter season provides a long window of -20 to -30C and colder to provide optimal weather and terrain conditions for testing. Driving and testing EVs in cold and extreme cold temperatures in Canada can challenge heating and defrosting systems which diminish battery power. Technology advancements will come from manufacturers doing their testing and research in these harsh, real world winter conditions in Thompson only 500 miles north of Winnipeg. We invite all EV manufacturers to test their EVs in real world moderate and extreme cold conditions on a variety of terrain surfaces.

Jet Engine

The world’s largest jet engines are tested only a few miles from Thompson in northern Manitoba’s wilderness. Rolls–Royce and Pratt & Whitney have partnered with the MDS Aerospace to establish a major world class Global Aerospace Center for Icing and Environmental Research (GLACIER). This facility is the world’s premier test site for icing certification and research of adverse cold weather conditions. GLACIER can test current and next generation gas turbine engines of up to 150,000 pounds of thrust.


Whether transit service or long distance travel, Thompson’s winter and road conditions offer testing opportunities for buses on various surfaces from pavement to frozen gravel to ice roads. Vehicle performance can be hampered by many winter and cold elements. Passenger safety and comfort becomes paramount in these harsh conditions. Testing for engine performance, ride comfort, and reliable heating and defrosting systems is essential for new bus models. Thompson offers rentable warehouses and industrial bays that allow for technical and mechanical servicing and testing indoors.

Advanced Technology

Sub Zero North is actively supporting the growing tech sectors.  Sub Zero North can assist with providing access to field test areas, obtaining permits and provide community reach out for demonstrations and presentations.

We can connect you to local government, indigenous and community organization for input in the development of products for solutions to northern issues in areas such as emergency response, fire safety, infrastructure maintenance and military needs just to name a few.

Sub Zero North also works with academic institutions such as University College of the North (located in Thompson), Red River Polytech and North Forge