Ford Building Wind Tunnel Complex To Improve Performance and Efficiency

Ford Motor Co. is adding a $200 million wind tunnel testing complex to try out real-world driving conditions for improved fuel efficiency and durable performance.

Real-world driving simulations will take place at a new aerodynamic testing complex with a rolling road wind tunnel and climatic chamber. Ford vehicles will be tested in temperatures as low as minus 40 degrees and as high as 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

Construction starts this year on at the new wind tunnel complex located next to Ford’s Driveability Test Facility in Allen Park, Mich.

It’s getting a new five-belt conveyor system that can replicate real-world drag through a rolling road aerodynamic tunnel. Each wheel will get its own belt, with a massive fifth belt running under the center of the tested vehicle. That will bring in airflow at speeds up to 155 mph.

The rolling road belt cartridge system uses a crane that can switch between the five belt and single belt system. That single belt can go up to 200 mph, which means it can be used for testing high-speed performance and racing vehicles.

You can view one of those performance vehicles, the Ford GT, in the video below. You’ll also see a Ford F-150 being tested with wind blasts.

Ford F-150 in wind tunnel test

Ford says it will have to “super-size” the wind tunnel chambers to accommodate the larger Super Duty trucks.

The Ford press release says that consumer’s appetite for vehicles with fuel efficiency and performance has led the automaker to invest $200 million in the test chamber.

“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,” said Raj Nair, Ford executive vice president, global product development and chief technical officer.

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Dennis Paige, lab manager for Ford’s Driveability Testing Facilities, said that the new facility will help Ford keep pace with the evolution of vehicles and where the auto industry is heading. It brings to Ford more of the advanced features, development, and innovation required to compete in the market.

Ford has focused on fuel efficiency in new model roll-outs, including lightweighting its F-Series pickups with aluminum alloys. The automaker’s vehicle electrification strategy is part of that campaign.

Ford CEO Mark Fields remains committed to fuel efficiency and sustainability goals, but has asked President Donald Trump to scale back on the federal fuel economy standards.

Several analysts and environmental groups have called to question Field’s claim that the Environmental Protection Agency’s recently approved standards through 2025 will cost the auto industry one million jobs.


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