In the world of car manufacturing, vehicle makers are constantly trying to cut costs while ensuring quality in their end products.

With that in mind, Ford is developing a virtual factory to simulate its manufacturing process in an attempt to cut costs and improve quality in its real plants by creating and analysing computer simulations of vehicle production.

And then there's the 3D vehicle simulations – imagine seeing your average Fiesta or Focus in front of you, except it's not there – with the idea being that these virtual prototypes can help evaluate the way parts are put together.

"We have already started work on our virtual factory project, so that we won't have to go to the real assembly line to conduct tests or research possible plant upgrades," said José Terrades, simulations engineer, Ford of Spain.

"Virtual factories will enable Ford to preview and optimise the assembly of future models at any of our plants, anywhere in the world. With the advanced simulations and virtual environments we already have at our disposal, we believe this is something Ford can achieve in the very near future."

The move means that computer simulation of the assembly process lets the vehicle build process be tested before investing in the resources required for a real-world production line.

And for the cars, interactive 3D interior environments of Ford development vehicles allow for evaluation of many things like visibility, instrument reach, ergonomics and roominess before building a physical prototype.