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New Cars for 2011
It has been frozen in Arctic Sweden, baked in the Arizona Desert, and been pushed to the limit in Britain – in the Environmental Test Laboratory at Ford's Dunton Technical Centre in Essex.
Technicians at Ford's Dunton research and engineering centre can recreate the worst weather imaginable.
They can raise the temperature to a sweltering 55 degrees Centigrade as well make do extreme cold rather well.
One of the most advanced facilities of its kind, Dunton's Environmental Test Lab comes at a cost of over £26.5 million.
It provides four test chambers (two with thermodynamic wind tunnels), six rooms in which to 'soak' vehicles from -40 to +55 degrees Centigrade and a vehicle preparation workshop. The lab even has two altitude chambers which can simulate between 100 metres below sea level and 4,000 metres above.
To ensure it will cope with anything nature throws at it, the new Ford Focus has spent thousands of hours inside the laboratory. Bruce Thirkettle, Environmental Test Lab supervisor said: "The new Focus was tested in real-world conditions but this is always limited by the prevailing weather.”
"The main advantage of testing here is that we can precisely recreate conditions at any time of the year," Thirkettle added.
"Temperature accuracy is within plus or minus 0.6 of a degree, humidity to within 0.7% and altitudes to plus or minus 10 metres. It is an exact science that means any vehicle performance changes are down to components and not any variation in the environment.
"We torture test vehicles here, so customers can enjoy worry-free motoring in Ford vehicles from launch."
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