Ford has announced a $200 million investment in a new wind tunnel complex. Construction of the facility will begin later this year. The goal is to improve the aerodynamics of the brand's road and race car,s for speed in the case of race cars and for both fuel economy performance for street cars.
The complex will have a new rolling road aerodynamic tunnel, an environmental simulation facility with airflow up to 200 mph, and a climate chamber that can reach as high as 140 degrees Fahrenheit and as low as minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Two types of conveyer systems will be used to replicate real-world drag. A five-belt conveyor system will be used to test fuel efficiency. Each wheel will sit on its own belt and a larger fifth belt will run under the center of the vehicle. Airflow in this tunnel will reach as high as 155 mph.
Ford will employ a crane to move vehicles from one belt system to the other.
That other system will use one large belt and offer wind speeds up to 200 mph. This system is clearly for race cars and high-end performance models like the Ford GT.
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Ford says it will "super size" the chambers to allow vehicles as large as the F-350 pickup to fit in them.
The location of the complex will be on 13 acres next to the current Driveability Test Facility in Allen Park, Michigan.
The Driveability Test Facility performs these same functions. It was constructed in 2000, and has six wind tunnels and 112,000 square feet of space. It can get as cold as the new facility, but it can only reach up to 131 degrees during heat testing. It is not clear if the new facility will work in tandem with or replace this one.