Ford blows $200M on new wind tunnel complex

Didn't Bob Dylan write about this topic at one point?

If you don't design your car using a wind tunnel, it's not going to be very efficient. And using old technology isn't much help, either. Ford is attempting to kill both those birds with a single stone.

Ford made a $200 million investment in a new wind tunnel complex, which it hopes will provide benefits for cars of both road and racing varieties. Living on 13 acres in Allen Park, Michigan, the facility will feature a rolling road tunnel that uses a five-belt conveyor system to run fuel efficiency tests, which can be swapped out for a single-belt system for 200-mph performance testing.

Improving testing methods begets improvements in the end product. Thus, when your next Ford is a fuel-sipper, you can thank the new wind tunnel.

Ford

While on the rolling road, cars can be subject to airflow simulations using air that's blowing between 155 and 200 mph, which Ford claims will lead to better, more easily repeatable tests and more thorough design validations. There will also be larger wind tunnel chambers to handle full-size pickup trucks, because aerodynamics matter, even if the subject is shaped like a brick.

There's also a climatic chamber, which will test a vehicle's capabilities in extreme temperatures. It can get as cold as -40 degrees Fahrenheit and as hot as 140 degrees Fahrenheit, which I'm pretty sure are the same two temperatures my shower is capable of producing.

The goal with this facility is to make stationary testing as close to the real world as humanly possible, all in the name of making its road cars better and its race cars more competitive. Construction begins this year, and there's no public timeline for completion.

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