Torture Testing a New Van: How Ford Dished Out 10 Years of Punishment in 180 days
- Ford subjects all-new Transit Custom – the 2013 International Van of the Year – to its most comprehensive ever vehicle testing process; durability tests simulate 10 extremely punishing years ownership in 6 months
- More than 150 professional test drivers, plus customer fleet drivers and Ford engineers, cover the equivalent of 5 million kilometres (3 million miles), through test conditions including corrosive salt- and mud-baths and temperatures ranging from 40 C to -40 C
- Transit Custom tows a loaded trailer for six months non-stop; is driven continuously at maximum speed for two months; and executes a month of continuous figures of eight; testing directly leads to more than 100 significant product improvements
LOMMEL, Belgium, Feb. 26, 2013 – Ford’s Transit engineers are well-known for their passion for commercial vehicles. In the case of the all-new Transit Custom one-tonne van it was more like tough love.
More than 150 professional test drivers, plus customer fleet drivers and Ford engineers, put the Transit Custom through a punishing process, covering the equivalent of 5 million hard-working kilometres (3 million miles). Tests included marathon non-stop driving tests that simulate an extremely demanding ten-year lifecycle in just six months, along with extreme climate testing and corrosive salt- and mud-baths.
“I don’t think many customers would believe what this vehicle has been through,” said Barry Gale, chief engineer, Commercial Vehicles, Ford of Europe. “We inflict the worst possible treatment that a van could endure, and we’re only satisfied when our new vehicle comes through with flying colours – just as the Transit Custom has done.”
Ford analysed data from real-world Transit use gathered from more than 600 vehicles, over 10 million kilometres (6 million miles), in seven markets around the world; that helped inform worst-case usage durability targets based on a ten-year 240,000 kilometres (150,000 miles) lifecycle.
Accelerated durability testing took place at Ford’s Lommel proving ground in Belgium, scene of more than 30 separate vehicle tests. These included the trailer tow general durability test, one of the ordeals that simulate an extremely tough 10-year lifecycle in just six months.
Examples of the extreme challenges included:
- Autobahn speed: Maintaining maximum speed for two months non-stop
- Figure Eight: Executing figures-of-eight non-stop for one month
- Chassis strength: Crashing into a 140 millimetre kerb at 60 km/h
- Potholes and bumps: Completing a potholed and bumpy course at speeds of up to 70 km/h 5,200 times
- Corrosion resistance: Driving over rough gravel roads, through salt- and mud-baths, and soaking in high-humidity chambers, for 12 weeks
During its development, Transit Custom prototypes also endured the toughest “real–world” conditions, surviving the extremes of 40 C heat in Dubai and -40 C biting cold in Finland, plus high-mileage road testing in the hands of professional fleet drivers.
In the test labs, Ford subjected the all-new Transit Custom’s 2.2-litre Duratorq diesel engine to 46 days continuous high-load urban driving on specialised rigs, as part of tens of thousands of hours of engine testing. Component test rigs simulating real-world punishment can prove out a full 10-year vehicle lifecycle in as little as 30 days.
Ford has identified more than 100 significant improvements it has delivered to the Transit Custom as a direct result of knowledge gained from its testing regime. These include the redesign and strengthening of the engine mount brackets and body rocker panels. The same regime will deliver similar benefits to the all-new Ford Transit and Transit Connect models due to come to market in late 2013.
“Pushing the van to the limit and beyond helps us to deliver a stronger, more robust product. This translates directly into every-day reliability for the customer, however tough their working environment,” added Gale.
The first vehicle in its segment to achieve a maximum five-star rating from independent vehicle safety organisation Euro NCAP, the all-new Ford Transit Custom is now on sale in major markets across Europe.
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About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 171,000 employees and 65 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford’s products, please visit http://corporate.ford.com
Ford of Europe is responsible for producing, selling and servicing Ford brand vehicles in 51 individual markets and employs approximately 66,000 employees. In addition to Ford Motor Credit Company, Ford of Europe operations include Ford Customer Service Division and 22 manufacturing facilities, including joint ventures. The first Ford cars were shipped to Europe in 1903 – the same year Ford Motor Company was founded. European production started in 1911.