Ford Motor Company of Canada, Limited, Vice President of Customer Service, Gilles Contant will officially open a new 581 square metre (6,250 square foot) expansion to the garage at Ford’s Extreme Cold Weather Test Facility in Thompson, Manitoba today. Despite the predictable cold weather, Manitoba Minister of Industry,Trade and Mines, the Honourable MaryAnn Mihychuk; Manitoba Minister of Conservation, the Honourable Steve Ashton; and Thompson City Councillor, Adrian deGroot were on hand. John Kelleher, president and secretary of Triple K Properties Ltd. and Bob Doyle, Section Supervisor of Ford North American Wind Tunnel and Cold Weather Testing cut the ribbon with Contant opening the new garage. “Ford, Mercury and Lincoln brands have been conducting cold weather testing in Thompson since the mid-1980s, due to the predictable extreme cold temperatures and lack of strong winds, said Contant. “Volvo and Land Rover moved their North American extreme cold weather testing to Thompson in the winter of 2000/2001 and Jaguar will spend their first winter testing here in 2003/2004,” he added. Ford Motor Company has signed a ten-year extension on the lease at the Thompson, Extreme Cold Weather Test Facility. The new lease started on March 1, 2003. “The consolidation of these brands under one roof will provide operational and cost efficiencies, and allow the brands to share best practices,” said Contant. The hangar and new garage contain a full mechanical shop as well as hoists capable of lifting vehicles as heavy as a large truck. Technicians can perform tasks as simple as changing tires or as complicated as replacing an engine or transmission. Cold weather testing at the Thompson airport site ranges from simple functions like ensuring that locks and windows don’t freeze and cold starting, where the vehicle is left outside for a specified length of time and then started to determine how long it takes to start and provide heat to the interior. More complicated tests involving traction control, Advance Trac and snow ingestion are conducted on the roads around Thompson and on Moak Lake, a ten-kilometre lake just north of the city. Two Manitoba companies, Contempora Steel Builders of Winnipeg and A&B Builders Ltd. of Thompson, provided the materials and construction of the new garage.