Potholes are responsible for more and more breakdowns – with resulting damage putting a serious dent in drivers’ wallets. Here’s how one unique bone-shaking test track could help.
All Ford vehicles for Europe are tested at the extensive Lommel Proving Ground, in Belgium, which features more than 100 extreme surfaces replicated from 25 countries.
One stretch, measuring just over a mile, consists of precise replicas of some of the world’s worst potholes, granite blocks and cobbles – surfaces so extreme that test drivers can only work for short periods of time.
“From a rutted traffic junction in China to a bumpy German side-street, this road is a rogues’ gallery of the most bruising surfaces that our customers might encounter,” said Eric-Jan Scharlee, durability technical specialist, at Lommel Proving Ground, in Belgium. “By incorporating real-world challenges into our test facilities we can develop future vehicles to better cope with challenging conditions.”
Last year in the U.K., the RAC responded to more than 25,000 pothole-related breakdowns – a nearly 25 per cent increase since 2014. Our Lommel facility helps engineers to create more robust vehicles, and develop new innovations to ensure our vehicles can better withstand poor roads.
Engineers employ similar equipment to that used by seismologists studying earthquakes, drive through the potholes, and record the strains put on the vehicle using sensors
“Analysing data inputs during vehicle testing has enabled Ford to develop a range of advanced driver aids and design modifications to help continually improve the safety and robustness of our vehicles,” Scharlee said.