• Potholes are an increasing problem for drivers
  • Ford test centre in Belgium replicates the effects of the worst potholes and extreme road surfaces from around the world
  • More than 100 punishing rough road conditions located at the Lommel Proving Ground which incorporates 50 miles of test tracks, including 1.2 miles of potholes

Vehicle manufacturer Ford has created 1.2 miles of gruelling test track that replicates some of the worst potholes and road hazards from around the world.

Designed to concentrate the punishment experienced by vehicles, it helps engineers create more robust chassis systems and develop new innovations to make cars tougher.

The road is part of 50 miles of test tracks at Ford’s test facility in Lommel, Belgium. It incorporates potholes from Europe and the US, and simulates more than 100 hazards from 25 countries worldwide. In the past three years alone, Ford engineers’ search for scary road hazards has taken them to the UK, Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Spain and Switzerland, as well as Asia, Australia, North America, and South America.

“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 Ford’s Lommel Proving Ground, in Belgium. “By incorporating these real-world hazards into our test facilities we can develop vehicles equipped to deal with these challenging conditions.”

Engineers drive through the potholes and over surfaces as diverse as granite blocks from Belgium and cobbles from Paris, at speeds of almost 50mph. Sensors, similar to those used by seismologists studying earthquakes, record the loads and strain on the suspension system.