Volkswagen of America has started construction of its Battery Engineering Lab at its Chattanooga Engineering and Planning Center in Tennessee.

The US$22m facility will test and validate electric vehicle cells and battery packs for North America.

The new lab will complement a 564,000 square foot electric vehicle production expansion and 198,000 square foot battery pack assembly facility at Chattanooga to form the automaker's EV production and engineering hub in the region. VW will test and optimise battery cells made in Georgia at the new lab and this testing will include batteries for the ID.4 BEV SUV scheduled for US production in 2022.

The engineering lab is also part of efforts to 'localise' all aspects of vehicle development and production which lowers production costs and development cycles. Current battery testing and validation takes place in Braunschweig and Wolfsburg, Germany, along with Shanghai and Changchun in China. Testing and validating battery components in Chattanooga will allow engineers to more quickly apply lessons learned to local production.

VW engineers will test battery components, the integration of the battery with the vehicle and look for more ways to integrate locally produced components into the production process. The lab will include pressure and immersion testers, corrosion chambers, five explosion rated climate chambers and a custom, two ton multi axis shaker table which is designed to test the integrity of vehicle components in some of the roughest conditions they might face on the road.

Built with sustainability in mind, the facility will also feature regenerative load cyclers that can return energy to the building or grid to be as efficient as possible.