MELBOURNE, Australia – Ford Australia provided online and consumer media with an opportunity to learn more about the Smart and Quality technology and engineering that goes into every Ford product with an in-depth tour of the testing facilities at the You Yangs Proving Ground.
The media was given a tour of the Advance Centre for Automotive Research and Testing (ACART), followed by an inspection of the test tracks, a lunch hosted by senior Ford executives, and finished off with the highlight for many – the chance to get behind the wheel and drive the Ford fleet of vehicles.
At ACART, the guests were shown the Vehicle Semi-Anechoic Chamber (VSAC), which is designed to replicate a moving vehicle during open road driving; the ACART wind tunnel, which can replicate wind speeds of up to 250km/h; and the Squeaks and Rattles Facility, which is a four-post hydraulic road simulator capable of accurately reproducing smooth and rough evaluation roads.
Ford Australia ensures that each vehicle that comes off the production line meets the highest One Ford global standards, and the facilities at the Proving Ground ensure this goal and expectation is met consistently. The Proving Ground provides an opportunity for Ford to put all of its vehicles through rigorous testing so that customers can be sure they are buying a world class product.
Ford Australia’s You Yangs Proving Ground was opened in 1965 and is one of several fully equipped durability and testing facilities in Ford globally. Apart from being a key development and durability centre for Ford vehicles in Australia, the Proving Ground is also used in the development of vehicles for other Ford markets in the Asia Pacific region, as well as Ford globally.
One of the main features of the media visit was a tour of the test tracks, which included being driven across a series of durability tracks in Ford Territory SUVs. This area, which is designed to test the vehicle’s body strength and durability, includes a range of special surfaces which range from potholes to Belgian blocks, cobblestones, and washboard road surfaces.
The vehicles were also put through a Basic Durability test, which includes rolling terrain with mild to severe gradients – the maximum upgrade is 25 percent while the maximum downgrade is 14 percent.
The media were also hosted at lunch by several Ford representatives including Bob Graziano, president and CEO, Ford Australia, David Wilkinson, vehicle line director, Vince Gower, Proving Ground manager, Bob Tilbury, test operations manager, and Scott McGregor, marketing manager, SUV and Light and Commercial Vehicles.
Once lunch was digested, the media were eager to get their hands on the wheels of the Ford fleet to take a spin around the Ride and Handling track.
And they had plenty of vehicles to choose from: S Fiesta Metal, LW MKII Focus Titanium petrol sedan, LW MKII Focus Sport TDCi hatch, MC Mondeo Titanium EcoBoost hatch, FG Falcon XR6 Ute petrol, FG Falcon XR6 Turbo, FG Falcon G6E i6, FG Falcon G6E EcoBoost, TE Kuga Titanium, SZ Territory Titanium TDCi AWD, PX Ranger Wildtrak, and VM Transit TDCi.
The media were pleasantly surprised at the power and driving dynamics of the EcoBoost Falcon, while the Fiesta Metal and Transit van also proved notable favourites.
To highlight the outstanding attributes of the EcoBoost Falcon, the media also participated in an ‘EcoBoost Challenge’ where an EcoBoost, EcoLPI and i6 petrol Falcon were lined up with all identifying markers removed for guests to guess which power train was in each vehicle. Guests drove a series of 0-100km/h tests back to back in each vehicle and then guessed the power trains. A prize was awarded for the fastest 0-100km/h time recorded during the event.
To finish the day, the reporters were driven by Ford’s professional drivers in either a Focus ST, an FPV GT-P or and FPV GT R-SPEC around the CST at high-speed and through the Ride and Handling Circuit as a ‘hot lap.’