In its quest to develop even-better vehicles, Ford will soon bring something new to Germany: some of the hottest and coldest temperatures, most arid and humid conditions, hurricane force wind speeds, and highest altitudes to be found anywhere on the planet. All that will be thanks to a new climatic wind tunnel, a new testing center being built by Ford at its engineering center in Merkenich, Cologne.
Ford plans for the all-new, multi-million USD facility to be the most advanced wind tunnel test facility in the global auto industry when it is opened in the next few years. The new Ford wind tunner will measure 5,500 square meters in size, equivalent to a football field and feature:
- Two climatic wind tunnels capable of operating at wind speeds of up to 250 kph (155 mph) — almost enough to be rated Category 5 for hurricane wind speeds
- An altitude laboratory capable of emulating heights from sea level to 5,200 meters (17,000 feet) high — higher than the average height of the Tibetan Plateau, which is often described as “The Roof of the World”
- Four separate cells where cars can be cooled to temperatures of minus 40 degrees Celsius (Arctic conditions), to plus 55 degrees Celsius, just 2.8 Celsius below the highest-ever air temperature globally recorded in the Sahara Desert
- The ability to adjust humidity from the driest desert conditions of just 10 percent humidity, to the most humid of rainforests at 95 percent
“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.
According to Ford, the opening of the new facility also underlines the importance of Ford’s development operations in Merkenich, Cologne. The center has the global lead for the design and the development of all of Ford’s global B- and C-segment vehicles.
“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.”