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November 7, 2006

GERMANY: Volkswagen opens new climate test centre

Volkswagen has opened a new cold and climate test centre at its Wolfsburg plant.

Volkswagen has opened a new cold and climate test centre at its Wolfsburg plant.

“The new centre will significantly reduce development times for our new models because we will be able to conduct a much wider range of tests in our labs,” said VW brand chief Wolfgang Bernhard. “Our engineers will be able to analyse and optimise development vehicles faster. This will save time and money and make for even higher quality.”

The facility has a total area of 5,400 square metres and cost about EUR30m. It is designed for comprehensive testing under a wide variety of climatic conditions at temperatures ranging from -40 to +150 degrees Celsius. Direct solar radiation, humidities up to 95%, elevations up to 3,000 meteres and wind blast can all be simulated. “This is an investment that sets new standards for the automobile industry,” added engine development head Rudolf Krebs.

There are seven test chambers with roller and test rig systems as well as an additional engine test bed.

Vehicles will no longer be heated or cooled to the test temperatures required in the test chambers themselves, as was previously the case, but in upstream conditioning boxes. Jens Pohlmann, head of the entre, noted: “This approach has significantly increased capacity. We can now carry out about 50 different tests per day in two-shift operation.

In addition, the center features 13 cold and climate test cabinets for component testing. These cabinets, with volumes ranging from 0.5 to 24 cubic metres, are used for testing parts such as injectors, windscreen wipers and doors under extreme climatic conditions.

The centre will allow Volkswagen to speed up product development, with considerable cost and time savings, according to the automaker. To date, changes in the design and development phase have been very costly and time-consuming. In future, it will be possible to include initial experience with prototypes in the development process at an earlier stage.

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