Inside a Top-Secret Lab at Ford

By Tori T.

There’s a lab within Ford that utilizes 6,000 watts of lighting – close to 300 spotlights and floodlights – to simulate various phases of the Earth’s revolution around the sun. Does that leave you wondering what purpose the sun could serve in developing a Ford vehicle? It’s because the interior and exterior of a vehicle can look a lot different at various times of day. Therefore, the goal is to create harmony, and in particular among interior components and lighting, in an effort to minimize things like glare.

“The Visual Performance Evaluation Lab [VPEL] helps us ensure that the craftsmanship in our vehicles is apparent day or night,” explained Christina Bloxom, Ford Interior Harmony Engineer.

The VPEL gives designers and engineers a controlled environment to see just how lighting is affecting the interior from the driver’s perspective. For example, are the controls visible? Do the textures and materials change with light? Are there reflections? Does the black leather look smokier in bright daylight, appearing almost gray? If something isn’t working based on what's discovered while researching at the VPEL, the designers can opt for a different shade of black or even switch up the texture. The VPEL has proven to be an invaluable part of the process when it comes to designing illuminated car interior components such as switches, clusters, climate controls, navigation systems, radios and rear entertainment systems.

“We scrutinize minute details to see what the customer sees in all levels of light, from the dark of night to the brightest day,” Christina said.

In the old days (aka, pre-VPEL), the lighting team had to take vehicles on the road under different sky conditions and evaluate the components that way. As you might guess, it took a long time. But now, they can do assessments as early as the clay-model stage. And that translates into saving both money and time when it comes to vehicle development.
Steve G 04/06/2013
This sounds interesting. One minor complaint I have about my new 2013 Fusion is that on a bright day the glare off the silver bezel on the air conditioning vent obscures the view of the driver's outside mirror. A black bezel that matched the rest of the dash would be less obtrusive.
alan 04/04/2013
I am looking for a chat tab but i dont see it. i am interested if the 220 plug i have will charge it ok
Dewey A 04/03/2013
Ford has A Better Idea
Marcelino G 04/03/2013
No surprise here. Ford always had and will have quality products.
john malone 04/03/2013
this is excellent utilisation of light and dark situation to establish and recognise the high and low pointsin the colour , the line and the curves of vehicles to achieve the optimum results.
can you also use coloured light onto, what would be a blank canvas of a vehicle, a vehicle that has a responsive coat that could show how certain vehicles look in certain clours, via the lights before they go into paint. this is maybe something we already do.
Dominick Sinisi 04/02/2013
This article was very interesting. But as far as the new excape,don't like it ,no chrome on the front grill.I have been leaseing Excapes for the six years, but i'll pass on this years modle. MR. Sinisi
Joshua M 04/01/2013
cool serect lab...Anyways ford rocks
Inside a Top-Secret Lab at Ford
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