‘Super-Sized’ Ford Rides to Get Improved Testing

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Ford’s New $200 Million Testing Facility to Open in 2017, Targeting Improved Technology, Design and Fuel Efficiency

Ford has high hopes of making future Raptors, Expeditions and its many other popular vehicles even more badass than they already are courtesy of a $200 million investment in a new aerodynamic testing complex.

Construction is slated to begin later this year on 13 acres in Allen Park, Michigan, next to Ford’s Driveability Test Facility. The facility will house a state-of-the-art wind tunnel and climatic chamber. Created with the aim of targeting improved product technology and design, the lab will be used to test both production and racing vehicles.

 

New complex will feature ‘super-sized’ wind tunnel chambers to better accommodate Ford’s Super Duty series.

 

The test venue will also focus on fuel economy by using innovative driving simulations to advance improvements. A five-belt conveyor system will replicate real-world drag through a rolling-road aerodynamic tunnel that enables the Blue Oval to bring the road to the vehicle, rather than the vehicle to the road. To test for optimal fuel efficiency, each wheel gets its own belt. The massive fifth belt runs under the center of the vehicle, allowing airflow around it at speeds up to 155 mph. As a part of the rolling-road belt cartridge system, a crane will be used to switch between the five-belt and single-belt systems. The single belt, which operates at up to 200 mph, reportedly opens up a new level of testing for high-speed performance and racing vehicles. (Check out the wind tunnel in action in the video below.)

“This investment in new world-class test facilities underpins Ford’s ongoing commitment to advance our capabilities to continue to provide our customers with high-quality vehicles,” says Raj Nair, Ford’s CTO and EVP of Global Product Development.

Likewise, the wind tunnel, with speeds from 155 to 200 mph, will produce full environmental airflow simulation, which strengthens testing for aerodynamic shielding, high-speed performance and other design features.

When it comes to studying how Ford’s toughness holds up in different seasons, the car company will be relying on a new climatic chamber. The chamber is able to generate temperatures colder than the Arctic (as low as minus 40 degrees F) and hotter than the Sahara (up to 140 degrees F).

The best part about Ford’s $200 million facility? The new aerodynamic complex will feature “super-sized” wind tunnel chambers to better accommodate large-frame trucks and SUVs, including Ford’s Super Duty series.

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