LOMMEL, Belgium– Ford has put its SA-bound Transit Custom van through its most comprehensive vehicle testing regime yet – the equivalent of 10 extremely punishing years in just six months.
More than 150 professional test drivers, plus customer fleet drivers and Ford engineers, put a number of vans through a punishing series of tests covering the equivalent of 4.8-million kilometres and including non-stop driving to simulate an extremely demanding 10-year life cycle along with extreme climate testing and corrosive salt and mud-baths.
‘WORST POSSIBLE TREATMENT’
Barry Gale, Ford Europe commercial vehicles chief engineer, told Wheels24: “I don’t think many customers would believe what this vehicle has been through. 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 more than 600 Transits around the world to assess its “worst-case usage durability targets” based on a 10 -year, 240 000km life.
Accelerated durability testing took place at Ford’s Lommel proving ground in Belgium, which included a “trailer tow general durability” test.
Extreme tests included: (remember, this is a van…)
Autobahn speed: Maintaining maximum speed for two months non-stop.
Figure Eight: Executing figure-of-eights non-stop for a month.
Chassis strength: Crashing into a 140mm kerb at about 60km/h.
Potholes and bumps: Completing a potholed and bumpy course at up to 70km/h more than 5000 times.
Corrosion resistance: Driving over rough gravel roads, salt and through mud-baths and soaking in high-humidity chambers for 12 weeks.
During its development, Ford Transit Custom prototypes also endured 40C in Dubai and -40C in Finland.
In the test labs, Ford subjected its 2.2 Duratorq diesel, which will power all Transit Customs, to 46 days of continuous high-load urban driving on specialised rigs.
Ford has engineered more than 100 significant improvements as a direct result of 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 Ford Transit Connect models due to be launched in 2014.
Gale said: “Pushing the van to the limit helps us to deliver a stronger, more robust product. This translates directly into everyday reliability for the customer, however tough their working environment.”
The SA units will have the 2.2 Duratorq TDCi diesel engine and be offered as long and short-wheelbase variants. The new Transit will arrive later in 2013.