Ford has been putting its 118-years-worth of vehicle torture testing know-how to use as it aims to demonstrate how durable electric vehicles can be. From extreme car washes and power sprayers to robotic butts and sharp gravel roads, a team of Ford engineers put Mustang Mach-E through torture tests designed to stress it beyond typical consumer use.
“We have gone to great lengths to subject Mustang Mach-E to extreme tests – stressing it much more than a typical consumer would – to help ensure it is ready to face the rigor of the open road,” said Donna Dickson, chief programme engineer, Mustang Mach-E.
Wash at will
Around 13 per cent of Europeans are unsure if electric vehicles can get wet while being driven in the rain – much less be able to go through a full car wash. Ford subjected Mustang Mach-E to 60 passes through a brutal, suds-free automatic conveyor wash complete with sprayers, brushes, and dryers – the equivalent of a wash every two weeks for more than two years.
To help test against leaks and other exterior damage that could be caused by water, the team blasted the door frames, trim, cowling, badges, headlamps, taillamps and adhesives of the Mustang Mach-E with a high-pressure water sprayer. The sprayer is capable of pressures up to 1,700 PSI and a temperature of 60 degrees Celsius and is sprayed at a distance of about one foot away from the vehicle’s exterior. That kind of pressure can remove oil stains from driveways when used with detergents.
Ford tested for just about anything customers might subject their seats to – especially their derrieres. Ford engineers studied varying weight loads on the seats using a wide range of human body types. The team does this by programming a robotic “butt” form , or “robutt”, to simulate a person getting in and out of their Mustang Mach-E – at least 25,000 times.
They also extensively tested the vehicle’s ActiveX seating material to withstand daily use and abuse. This included chemical testing to help ensure products like hand sanitizer do not deteriorate the material, abrasion testing to ensure the finish stays put after simulating a 10-year use cycle, and flexing the seating material 100,000 times to assess its resistance to cracking.
Built tough for daily use
A cracked phone screen is never fun, but a cracked touchscreen – especially one with as much functionality as the screen in the Mustang Mach-E — is unacceptable. The 15.5-inch touch screen in the 2021 Mustang Mach-E uses a special application of Dragontrail™ glass to ensure its durability. It sits on top of a high-strength magnesium mounting that is able to withstand being pulled or bumped.
“The screen in the Mustang Mach-E is so crucial to the driving experience. It’s the centrepiece of the interior and people’s eyes just naturally go right to it,” said Dickson. “We knew we had to go above and beyond to make sure it is durable enough to withstand daily customer interactions — think purses and bags hitting it, pets bumping into it, children playing with it and so on. You need that deep customer understanding to identify the potential issues and work to prevent them.”
No stone left unturned
Mustang Mach-E customers should be confident that they can drive their vehicle where the pavement ends and gravel roads begin, and not come back with a new “speckled” paint job.
To do this, Ford engineers subjected Mustang Mach-E to 300 miles of stone-chip testing on gravel roads to evaluate damage caused to body paint by small rocks and cinder. Ford used two different grades of gravel stones to test as professional drivers fishtailed Mustang Mach-E over a miles-long stretch of scattered gravel on pavement at 60 mph nearly 200 times.
Once the first test was completed, the team then swapped the gravel for an even sharper grade of stone and repeated the test all over again.
“Electric vehicles shouldn’t be limited to nicely paved city streets and suburbia,” said Dickson “We tested Mustang Mach-E so that customers can confidently live on or adventure down gravel roads and not worry about their paint easily chipping.”