Ford is testing their new vehicles in a cold weather testing facility in the sunshine state, Florida. Sunshine and cold weather do not usually go together, but Ford has been able to make it work while being able to make sure their vehicles work in any climate.
Ford brings global prototype vehicles and a team of engineers to the world’s largest climatic test facility, the McKinley Climatic Laboratory at Eglin Air Force Base in the Florida panhandle. The facility pushes the limits of extreme cold-weather testing in order to improve vehicle quality and performance for customers.
Ford is not the only company to use this facility. The U.S. Air Force use the laboratory to test every aircraft in the Department of Defense’s inventory. With this test facility Ford engineers can get temperatures down as low as minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit in a span of just 10 hours.
With the capability to do test in real world environmental conditions allows Ford and its engineers to make adjustments to the vehicles quicker. For example, Ford engineers found that replacing metallic plugs with ceramic gold plugs enabled the engine to heat up more quickly, for a more robust start.
The hot, humid climate of northwest Florida in August has no impact on conditions inside the lab, making it ideal for simulating winter in Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay or Canada’s Yellowknife region. Having a facility that is capable of testing these specific areas that Ford knows their trucks will be at helps make sure everything is right the first time around.
In the oil fields of Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay, Ford F-Series trucks are not only a mode of transportation, but also a safety device for workers who need a warm cabin to retreat to on-site to prevent cold-weather injury on the job. The large capacity of the facility allows Ford to do large batch long term idle tests on the trucks.
Running the tests in 40 degree to minus 40 degree weather allows Ford to ensure that the customers needs will be met. Learnings from these cold-weather tests helped Ford engineers perfect the 6.7-liter engine that powers the current F-Series Super Duty.
More and more manufactures are running tests on their vehicles to ensure that the quality and safety of the vehicles is where it needs to be. The advancement in technology only allows the vehicle manufactures to continue to push the limits of every vehicle produced. With test facilities like the McKinley Climatic Laboratory, manufactures will be able to run more tests and see how the vehicles perform in real world conditions, allowing the final product to be the best possible when it hits the showroom floor.