Before any new car is launched, it undergoes a battery of tests to ensure that it can cope with most anything that will be thrown at it. Everything from performance, durability, comfort, and the like are put to the test. And carmakers usually perform these on proving grounds that are as close to, if not, actual real world conditions.
There are the elevated roads in the Alps, the freezing Arctic Circle, and the scorching African deserts. Some even take their test mules to the treacherous Death Valley just to see how well it will withstand the harshest environments.
Ford ups the ante by simulating all these and more at its new John Andrews Product Development Center in Cologne, Germany. The new facility has its very own Weather Center that can test up to 10 vehicles at a time in varying conditions. Engineers and designers can subject a new vehicle to -40 degrees Cesius frigid weather to see how well it will hold up in the worst winters.
Then there are times when Ford will bring the thermostat up to a seething 55 degrees Celsius—just like the hottest deserts out there. While this facility will not replace real-world testing, it is meant to help save time and development costs by allowing product development teams to get a feel of how a vehicle will hold up during its lifespan. Everything from engine performance, durability, comfort, and the whole gauntlet of parameters wll be put to the test. And they don’t need to leave the Ford facility to do so.
While most vehicles may never be subjected to extreme conditions, it’s nice to know that Ford is taking pains to ensure that its products will hold up well over time—no matter what the weather.