Weather Factory by Ford

COLOGNE, Germany, Nov. 24, 2016 – How would you like to be able  to  choose  the  weather  any  day  of  the  year?  That  is  exactly what Ford’s new “Weather Factory” will enable engineers to do as they test forthcoming vehicles in the most demanding conditions from around the world.

Altitudes higher than Mont Blanc, the tallest Alpine peak, vehicle and wind speed of up to 250 km/h (155 mph), and snow, glaring sunlight and rain are among conditions that will be simulated at Ford’s state‑of‑the‑art Environmental Test Centre.

As well as making low-lying Cologne, in Germany, the highest point in Western Europe at the push of a button, the multi-million euro facility  will  be  the  most  advanced   automotive  facility  of  its  kind.

The first to simulate altitudes of 5,200 metres, the centre will also offer extremes of -40°C, the average winter temperature in eastern Siberia,  to  +55°  C  –  just  1.7°  Celsius  below  the  highest-ever  air temperature globally recorded – as well as 95 per cent humidity.

The capabilities of the new Environmental Test Centre can be seen in this new animation “With  industry-first  features,  like  the  high  altitude  testing  and the  ability  to   simulate  heavy  snow,  this  new  test  facility  offers  a toolkit that will help us to continue to develop future best-in-class vehicles,”  said  Joe  Bakaj,  vice  president,  Product  Development, Ford of Europe.

“This is a significant step forward that will enable Ford  to  efficiently  simulate  the  most   demanding  environmental conditions around the globe under repeatable conditions.”

The  centre  –  which  Ford  expects  to  be  fully  operational  later next  year  –  will   enable  engineers  to  work  on  up  to  nine different  vehicles  simultaneously,  testing  comfort,  safety  and operational capabilities including electrical performance, braking,
air conditioning, and pulling heavy loads.

The football pitch sized facility will cover an area of 5,500 square metres, include two climate wind tunnels; a high-altitude lab; and four temperature controlled test chambers, three of which will also facilitate  humidity  testing.

It  will  also  facilitate  testing  of  Ford’s expanded  line  up  of  performance  cars  and   sports  cars,  which includes the acclaimed Focus RS, Focus ST, and Ford Mustang, in
conditions of higher wind speed.

And it will be used to test all front-wheel, rear‑wheel, and all-wheel drive vehicles.

Ford  test  facilities  in  Europe  also  include  Ford  Lommel  Proving Grounds,  in  Belgium,  home  to  a  specific pothole-testing  track, side-wind  tests,  and  saltwater  and  mud  baths.

Ford  vehicles  are regularly subjected to as much as 5.5 million km of punishing real-
world durability testing, which can include locations as demanding as  the  Mojave  Desert,  in  the  U.S.;  the  Arctic  Circle;  and  the Grossglockner High Alpine Pass, in Austria.