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April 1, 2019

Test World builds on new mobility as new indoor site opens

Test World says it views alternative propulsion development as "definitely a business opportunity" as it marked the opening of its new indoor site at Ivalo in northern Finland.

By Rhodri Morgan

Test World says it views alternative propulsion development as “definitely a business opportunity” as it marked the opening of its new indoor site at Ivalo in northern Finland.

The facility – just 30 miles from the Russian border – is owned by Millbrook and increases Test World’s capacity and capability for year-round cold weather testing, as well as simultaneous, controlled and repeatable work on snow, ice, and wet and dry asphalt, 365 days a year.

The indoor facility comprises an asphalt track, totalling 410m in length, with wet and dry braking and longitudinal aquaplaning areas, bringing the total length of Test World’s indoor test tracks to 1.6km.

As well as conventional tyre and vehicle testing, Test World is looking to the megatrends of non-internal combustion engine transport as a way to leverage further avenues to explore.

“Many of them [tyre manufacturers] have their own proving grounds, but still they use our services,” Test World managing director, Janne Seurujärvi, told just-auto on the sidelines of the facility’s recent opening in Ivalo, around 600 miles north of Helsinki. “Test World is doing test work and sending the report to customers, benchmarking their own results.

“Of course, part of this outsourcing is the period from tyre development testing to market is getting shorter and the pressure is quite high. These global giants send prototype tyres here and our own team is taking care of [it]. Electric vehicles change a lot in tyre testing. You don’t have to start from point zero of course, but you need to do different kinds of tests and different kinds of engines.

“It is absolutely not a threat at all; future megatrends, smart tyres are coming. When you are talking [the] tyre industry, it is big business. Testing needs are significant, so there is room for all.

“Those who are trying to be pioneers and leaders need to do significant investment – for sure I can say we are going to be market leader in the future in winter tyre testing – and hopefully in summer tyre [as well].”

Cold conditions pose a particular challenge to the electric powertrain including the electric motor, high-voltage battery and the thermal management system. Customers can use Test World’s indoor facilities to test vehicles in the required conditions, 365 days a year.

The extended indoor snow and ice platforms and the newly-opened indoor asphalt track provide vehicle manufacturers with facilities for cold-weather driven tests. Continuous running is possible using the indoor handling track.

With controlled environmental chambers operating down to -40°C, and the temperature of the indoor facilities as low as -13°C, performance and range measurements from a cold start can be assessed in a range of controlled and repeatable conditions. The indoor facilities allow vehicles to be driven through prescribed drive cycles at speed.

By varying the controlled conditions indoors, the effectiveness of battery thermal management systems and the effect of temperature on range and performance can be measured under a range of low ambient temperature scenarios. Customers can also optimise the effectiveness and efficiency of cabin and battery heating systems using the facilities.

Customers can calibrate the traction control system under low to medium speeds, including optimisation of the traction control during EV regeneration to avoid wheel lock on low mu surfaces. 

For parallel hybrid systems, driving on low and high mu surfaces, the transition between pure electric drive and the ICE drive can be calibrated to achieve a smooth transition.

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