Ford’s new ‘Propulsion Development Laboratory’ at its UK HQ in Essex has been opened. Ford says it is underpinning the Dunton Campus’ research and development role in delivering Ford’s European electric vehicle plans.

The GBP24 million facility was inaugurated by UK transport minister Anthony Browne MP.

The minister saw EV powertrain components intensively tested with speeds and loads to accelerate levels of wear which customers would incur only after years of vehicle use.

In the last two years Ford has invested £47 million in the adjacent Advanced Propulsion Laboratory (APL) and separate E:PRiME (Electrified Powertrain in Manufacturing Engineering) prototype build facility, also toured by the minister. 

APL specialises in minimising noise and vibration from EV powertrains as well as developing hybrid powertrains for the latest emissions regulations, while E:PRiME develops advanced manufacturing processes, producing prototype EV components  ahead of volume production.  Last year the E:PRiME team completed 150 electric power units, involving employees from Ford Halewood Plant on Merseyside where over 400,000 of the power units will be assembly annually from later this year.

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The newest Propulsion Development Laboratory comprises eight vehicle-size rooms capable of testing electric power units and propulsion systems – maximising development time, including round-the-clock component reliability sign off.  The new laboratory’s test rooms are configured to test EV, hybrid and combustion powertrains, flexing between technologies in anticipation of market changes and customer requirements.

Lisa Brankin, chair and managing director of Ford Britain and Ireland, said: “I’m delighted that the transport minister Anthony Browne joined us today to officially open our new Propulsion Development Laboratory.  This is the third new test facility opened on our Dunton Campus in two years, underpinning the site’s key role in delivering Ford’s electric vehicle plan in Europe.”

Transport minister Anthony Browne MP, leading on technology and decarbonisation, said:  “It was fantastic to visit Ford and test drive their new BlueCruise technology as well as open its state-of-the-art modular test lab, which are essential for scaling up the UK’s electric vehicle production.

“It’s great to see a commitment to UK EV development following our ZEV mandate becoming law earlier this year, meaning we have a clear pathway for reducing car and van emissions.”