February 20, 2017
There will soon be a new neighbor next to Ford’s current Driveability Test Facility in Allen Park, Michigan, and it’s not what you may think. Ford Motor Company recently unveiled their plans to build a $200 million aerodynamic testing facility at this suburban Detroit location.
The new and innovative wind tunnel facility will be constructed on 13 acres of land already owned by the auto giant. It will also feature a state-of-the-art climatic chamber and will simulate real-world driving situations. The chambers will be larger in order to accommodate large-frame vehicles from the brand, such as the Super Duty pickup. The climatic chamber will be capable of producing temps as low as -40 degrees F, which is colder than the Arctic, and as high as 140 degrees F, which is warmer than the Sahara Desert.
Ford also said that this complex will have testing abilities that better match the technological development of their vehicle line in both the production and racing sectors. Engineers will have access to more accurate testing to help with advancements in vehicle design. In fact, the wind tunnel will be able to simulate speeds of up to 155-200 mph. The facility will also conduct rolling road simulations that will use individual belts for each wheel and a fifth belt that will be placed underneath the center of the car. The belts will be able to run up to 200mph and simulate drag on a vehicle. Ford wants to bring the road to the vehicle instead of bringing the vehicle to the road.
What fueled this decision was an increased demand from consumers to own and drive vehicles with better efficiency and performance. They want vehicles that are even more fuel efficient than they are currently. This was evident at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show where fuel efficient and eco-friendly vehicles were the ones sporting the major awards.
“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,” explains Raj Nair, Ford executive vice president, global product development and chief technical officer.