- Nanjing-based facilities part of Ford’s RMB 1.3 billion investment to further product capability and innovation in China
- Ford’s first vehicle testing facility in China, the Nanjing Test Center will enable the company to speed up development of new products, services and technologies to better meet the driving requirements of customers in the region
- New MakerSpace, one of four creative hubs planned for Asia Pacific, is designed to inspire employees to innovate
- Covering 660,000 square meters, the Nanjing Test Center includes close to 80 different road surfaces, a three-kilometer test track and sophisticated emissions testing facilities
NANJING, China, November 24, 2017 – Ford Motor Company is reinforcing its commitment to product development and innovation in China with the opening today of the RMB 680 million Nanjing Test Center (NTC) and a new MakerSpace creative hub.
Part of Ford’s RMB 1.3 billion investment to further innovation at its 2,000-employee Research and Engineering Center in Nanjing, the NTC is Ford’s first China-based facility capable of fully proving out new vehicles, while the new MakerSpace will serve as a hands-on learning environment where employees can come together to collaborate, brainstorm and develop prototypes.
The NTC will enable Ford to develop the next generation of vehicles for China and Asia Pacific at a quicker pace than ever before. The center includes close to 80 different types of real road surface conditions, a three-kilometer test track and a sophisticated emissions testing facility. It will also have a new laboratory for noise, vibration and harshness testing that will allow Ford to deliver vehicles that offer a smooth, quiet and relaxing driving experience.
The NTC will work closely with other Ford laboratories to further enhance powertrain engineering capabilities in China and Asia Pacific in order to meet the increasing needs of consumers for better fuel efficiency.
“Innovation is the cornerstone of Ford’s growth strategy in Asia Pacific,” said Trevor Worthington, vice president, Product Development, Asia Pacific. “By having our research and testing centers so closely aligned, we can speed up the development of new products, services and technologies for customers in China and across the region.”
Testing in China, for China
Covering 660,000 square meters, and built to global design standards to ensure consistency with other Ford vehicle testing centers in the Americas, Europe and Australia, the NTC features close to 80 different road surfaces. From potholes to cobblestone streets, they each recreate the driving conditions that customers around the world experience day to day.
Because China’s road conditions vary greatly, particularly in lesser-developed provinces that are often subject to extreme weather, 15 of the 80 are China-specific surfaces that represent real-world roads common throughout the country.
“Nobody knows the needs of Chinese drivers better than our local engineers,” said Worthington. “The NTC will now allow us to test their designs quickly and easily, reducing time-to-market for future Ford products.
“It will test a diverse portfolio of Ford vehicles for China and Asia Pacific, including performance vehicles, both compact and full-sized passenger cars, SUVs and light-weight commercial vehicles. It will also reduce our need to send prototypes abroad, saving time and money in the product development process.”
The first programs to be carried out at the new center include the development of next generation vehicles for China, as well as well the homologation of imported vehicles like Explorer and Mustang.
Other highlights at the NTC include:
- A vehicle dynamics area that allows engineers to conduct thorough ride and handling tests
- An emissions lab that ensures all vehicles are compliant with Chinese and European emissions standards
- A new laboratory for noise, vibration and harshness testing
- A precision steering track where steering ratios can be tweaked to suit market-specific requirements
- A squeak and rattle lab with full environmental facility which can test vehicle performance in conditions ranging from minus 30 to 40 degrees Celsius
- A grade hills facility with various gradients for vehicle incline testing
From PowerPoint to Prototype
With phase one launched in December 2016, the Nanjing MakerSpace was one of the first such creative spaces for Ford globally and serves as a blueprint for others to follow. Ford plans to have four in Asia Pacific by the end of 2018, including one in Chennai, India.
It provides a hands-on creative environment complete with cutting-edge equipment like 3D printers, scanners, laser cutters and VR devices to encourage collaboration and innovation among employees. The facility is staffed by highly-trained experts with a range of specialties who work alongside MakerSpace creators.
A number of innovation challenges and events have already been held there, with many more set to take place in the future. Ford also plans to open up the space to the local community to stimulate closer collaboration between the company and other organizations.
“The goal of the Maker Space is to get Ford employees out of their cubicles, off the computer, and into a creative environment where they are inspired to think up new ideas and build stuff,” said Sean Newell, dean of Leadership & Innovation, Ford Asia Pacific. “It will unlock the spirit of innovation that has always been part of Ford’s DNA and is essential for us to stay relevant and competitive in future.”
Established in 2007, Ford’s Nanjing Research and Engineering Center has grown from a sourcing office into a world-class hub for product development and innovation serving the whole Asia Pacific region. It is now one of nine global product development centers for Ford.
In the past decade, it has expanded to a staff of over 2,000, published more than 200 patents and led the development of the Escort and Taurus, designed especially for the Chinese market. With the opening of the NTC, Ford’s Research and Engineering Center will play an important role in developing and engineering future Ford vehicles for China and the region.