Steane Klose | Apr 15, 2009

ACART, a new $20 million Advanced Centre for Automotive Research and Testing, located at Ford’s proving ground was officially opened today by the Victorian Minister for Environment and Climate Change, the Hon Gavin Jennings, Ford Australia President and CEO Marin Burela, and Dean of the School of Engineering, Melbourne University Professor Iven Mareels.

What is ACART you ask? ACART is a centre made up of three separate facilities. A multi-fuel emissions cell and an environmental testing laboratory (both located at Ford Australia’s proving ground) and an engine dynamometer facility located at the University of Melbourne.

The ACART project is a collaborative agreement between Ford and the University of Melbourne and also receives funding from the Victorian State Government’s Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) infrastructure grants program.

The cost of the $19.7 million project was met by the three partners.

"The collaboration and investment undertaken between Ford, the University of Melbourne and the Victorian State Government on the ACART project highlights a continued confidence in the future of our industry in Australia," said Ford Australia President & CEO Marin Burela.

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ACART is expected to enhance the technical competitiveness of Ford Australia and the quality of academic research and testing at the University of Melbourne.

"The project also demonstrates our commitment to technological leadership, and helps build Ford's capability as an innovative and progressive manufacturer dedicated to improving future product."

Other local manufacturers will also be able to benefit from ACART, with the centre being available for their use on a commercial basis.

"These new facilities present an exciting opportunity for Ford to work with the University of Melbourne, with assistance from the State Government, to make a real difference to environmental research and development in Victoria.

Ford has already used the completed ACART facilities to make significant improvements in the fuel economy and emissions output of its volume selling Falcon XT sedan.

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Falcon XT sedan with the optional ZF six-speed automatic transmission, produced from April 09 onwards achieves a fuel consumption average of 9.9 l/100km, making it one of the fuel-efficiency leaders in the large car segment.

Ford has also reduced CO2 tailpipe emissions on the XT Sedan – down to 236 g/km – to give the Falcon XT an improved green vehicle accreditation with a 5.5 star Greenhouse Rating (for vehicles producing less than 241 g/km of CO2 emissions).

The largest of the three facilities, an Environmental Testing Laboratory at Ford's Proving Ground, significantly surpasses the technical capability of any competitive facility in the Asia-Pacific region.

It has the ability to produce a broad spectrum of simulated weather conditions ranging from -40ºC to +55ºC, wind speeds of up to 250km/h, and create humidity. It will also have the capability to incorporate snow and rain conditions at a later date.

"It has previously been impossible to experience similar climatic extremes without making trips to locations outside of Victoria. Having these facilities close to hand means we can test a variety of different variables without having to leave the Proving Ground," Mr Burela said.

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