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Welcome To The Ford Weather Factory

February 10, 2021

Welcome To The Ford Weather Factory

In Cologne, Germany, there's a building, as big as a football pitch, which contains all the weather in the world.

Ford Weather factory
Ford Weather factory

 

It sounds like the sort of place you need to win a golden ticket to enter. But it's actually where we test our vehicles before they head off into the real weather. Even so, it is kind of magical.

So, grab your golden ticket, and let us take you on a world tour. Weather factory style…

Tropic thunder

We'll start in Singapore, where it can get seriously muggy. Humidity here can reach a dripping 95%. Imagine demisting in that. It's also potentially not great for electrics or engines. So, to make sure Fords are up to the job, our massive 1.2-megawatt wind turbines are able create these tropical levels of humidity. Great for testing cars. Terrible for your hair.

Ford Fiesta in humid environment

 

Heat

Now we're in California. Furnace Creek, Death Valley to be precise. It was here in 1913, that the hottest ever temperature on Earth was recorded. A stifling 56.7˚C. In the weather factory, we can generate temperatures up to 55˚C. We use this extreme heat to test engine performance and cabin cooling.

Ford Fiesta under heat lamps

 

Up

Beware, your ears might be about to pop. From 58 meters below sea level at Furnace Creek, we're flying up to 5200 meters above. Welcome to Everest North Base Camp, high in the Tibetan Himalayas.

(By the way, as our engineers move around the facility, they have to acclimatise to air pressure conditions, just like mountaineers.)

Up here we check not only how vehicles deal with high altitude and pressure, but also how they cope with the weather in those environments. For that, our wind tunnel simulates hurricane force winds. We can also throw in rain, cold, heat or snow for good measure.

Frozen

While we're wrapped up warm, let's pop over the Himalayas and up to eastern Siberia, inside the Arctic circle.

Here, the average winter temperature is a chilly -40˚C.  Defrosting windscreens, cold starts, heating — this is the ideal environment for testing how vehicles perform in the coldest conditions. Especially because we're actually in Cologne and when we do go outside it isn't 40 below.

Ford Fiesta covered with frost

 

There's no place like home

Finally, he we are, back at the Weather Factory. Or, the Ford Environmental Test Centre, as it's officially known. Sure, it might not actually be the tropics or the Himalayas, but our engineers do have one more trick up their sleeves.

They can make it snow.

Ford Fiesta covered with snow

 

So, if we do have a white winter this year, you know your Ford will be ready for it.

Watch the Weather Factory in action:

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