Ford develops vehicles to tackle the worst potholes

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Ford has created 1.2‑miles of grueling test track that replicates some of the worst potholes and road hazards from around the world.

Designed to concentrate the punishment experienced by vehicles, it helps engineers create more robust chassis systems and develop new innovations to ensure Ford vehicles can better withstand the world’s challenging roads.

The road is part of 50 miles of test track at Ford’s test facility in Lommel, Belgium. It incorporates potholes from Europe and the USA, and simulates more than 100 hazards from 25 countries worldwide. In the past three years alone, Ford engineers’ search for scary road hazards has taken them to the UK, Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Spain and Switzerland, as well as Asia, Australia, North America and South America.

“From a rutted traffic junction in China to a bumpy German side-street, this road is a rogues’ gallery of the most bruising surfaces that our customers might encounter,” said Eric-Jan Scharlee, durability technical specialist, at Ford’s Lommel Proving Ground, in Belgium.

“By incorporating these real-world hazards into our test facilities we can develop vehicles equipped to deal with these challenging conditions.”

Engineers drive through the potholes and over surfaces as diverse as granite blocks from Belgium and cobbles from Paris, at speeds of almost 50mph. Sensors, similar to those used by seismologists studying earthquakes, record the loads and strain on the suspension system.

All Ford vehicles for Europe are tested at Lommel, where test drivers cover more than 3,700,000 miles every year. For example, the all-new Transit was driven over the course more than 5,000 times as part of a testing regime designed to simulate 10 years of driver use in just six months. Test facilities also include a high-speed circuit, salt- and mud-baths, and corrosion testing in high-humidity chambers. Prototype vehicles also are driven worldwide in temperatures ranging from -40°C to 40°C.

For videos of the test surfaces click here.

February 25, 2016

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John joined UKi Media & Events in 2012 and has worked across a range of B2B titles within the company's automotive, marine and entertainment divisions. Currently editor of Automotive Testing Technology International, Crash Test Technology International and Electric & Hybrid Marine Technology International, John co-ordinates the day-the-day operations of each magazine, from commissioning and writing to editing and signing-off, as well managing web content. Aside from the magazines, John also serves as co-chairman of the annual Electric & Hybrid Marine Awards and can be found sniffing out stories throughout the halls of several of UKI's industry-leading expo events.

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