The all-new, multi-million US$ facility – which is planned to be the most advanced wind tunnel test centre in the global auto industry when it is opened in the next few years – will feature two climatic wind tunnels capable of operating at wind speeds of up to 250 kph – almost at the Category 5 rating for hurricane wind speeds.
The test centre also will house an altitude laboratory capable of emulating heights from sea level to 5,200 metres high – higher than the average height of the Tibetan Plateau, often described as “The Roof of the World.”
“Around 50 percent of the vehicles we sell around the world are sold in areas that are more than 1,000 metres above sea level, including regions like the Alps and Pyrenees here in Europe,” said Barb Samardzich, Chief Operating Officer, Ford of Europe, at today’s ground-breaking ceremony.
“This new, world-leading climatic wind tunnel test centre underlines Ford’s continuing commitment to investing in the most advanced vehicle testing technologies to provide our customers with the highest quality, world-class vehicles.”
The climatic wind tunnel test centre also will feature four separate cells where cars can be cooled to temperatures of minus 40 Celsius Arctic conditions, to plus 55 Celsius, just 2.8 Celsius below the highest-ever air temperature globally recorded in the Sahara Desert. In addition, humidity in the centre will be capable of being adjusted from the driest desert conditions of just 10 percent humidity, to the most humid of rainforests at 95 percent.
The new test centre – which will measure 5,500 square metres in size, equivalent to a football field – also underlines the continuing importance of Ford’s engineering centre in Merkenich, Cologne which has the global lead for the design and the development of all Ford global B- and C-segment vehicles.