A Factory that Makes Weather?

At the new Ford Weather Factory, engineers will simulate global weather conditions to improve vehicle performance.


Picture a factory, and what springs to mind? Chances are, you're thinking of automation equipment, robotics and all the other mechanical stuff involved in the production of a physical product. But at one German plant set to open this year, you're just as likely to envision a giant snow globe. 

This special plant is Ford's Weather Factory, a facility designed to test vehicle models under the most extreme and grueling weather conditions, according to an article on Ford’s site. Want to know how a car will hold up under extreme heat? Will performance chage at high altitudes, for eample, if your atop Mont Blanc, the tallest Alpine peak? What kind of impact will a snow squall have on the car’s defrosting system? Engineers can use this special lab to test these and many other extreme condition events.

The 5,500 square meter facility is being built with an array of state-of-the-art technology, including climate wind tunnels, a high altitude lab, and four temperature-controlled test chambers, three of which can also facilitate humidity testing. Engineers will be able to simulate weather extremes, including snowstorms, glaring sunlight and wind-swept rain, putting designs through a battery of tests to see how they will hold up and perform under real-world weather conditions.

This Ford factory may be all business, but I can see an opportunity for some creative fun.

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