BRIMLEY, Mich.—Smithers Group has upgraded and expanded testing capabilities at its 800-acre winter test center in Brimley, including improvements to two hill sections and the addition of an off-road course.
"Every year, we take stock of what our clients are requesting so we prioritize new testing areas, upgrades, and other changes before the next winter testing season," said Sean Connolly, general manager of the center.
"With electric and autonomous vehicle technology changing so quickly, new testing needs to emerge all the time, and we're dedicated to continuously adding new test capabilities to meet our clients' evolving needs."
The updates to the facility include:
- Upgraded 15 percent hill and redesigned 20 percent covered hill, with "three wheels on-ice" capacity available;
- An off-road vehicle course including articulations, twists, ditches, slopes and off-camber sections;
- Touchless Bluetooth gate access and new front gate security building; and
- Upgraded on-site power to support additional electric vehicle chargers and building requirements.
These improvements are in addition to the addition of cold-soak freezers that can maintain temperatures as low as -30°F. Demand for freezer testing is growing among automotive OEMs and suppliers that are working to develop batteries and specialty components for electric vehicles, Smithers said.
The group also added a high-speed EV-charging station.
Smithers has owned and operated the winter test center on Michigan's Upper Peninsula since the late 1970s.
The facility can accommodate a variety of vehicle types, from small automobiles to Class 8 trucks, vehicle components, snow-handling equipment, construction equipment, recreational/sport vehicles and military equipment, according to Smithers.