Volkswagen has inaugurated the new cold and climate test centre at its Wolfsburg plant. Dr Wolfgang Bernhard, Chairman of the Volkswagen Brand, opened the 5,400 sq metre facility in the presence of 150 guests. 'The new cold and climate test 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 Bernhard. 'Our engineers will be able to analyse and optimize development vehicles faster. This will save time and money and make for even higher quality.'
The new centre, which cost approximately €30 million, is designed for comprehensive testing under a wide variety of climatic conditions at temperatures ranging from -40 to +150 degrees Celsius. Even direct solar radiation, up to 95 per cent humidity, elevations up to 3,000 metres and wind blast can all be simulated. 'This is an investment that sets new standards for the automobile industry,' added Dr Rudolf Krebs, Head of Engine Development.
From the Fox sub-compact through to commercial vehicles, all Volkswagen models face laboratory testing as one of the key components of technical development. The seven test chambers with highly advanced roller and test rig systems as well as an additional engine test bed are all available for laboratory testing.
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. Dr Jens Pohlmann, Head of the Cold and Climate Test Centre, explains: 'This approach has significantly increased the capacity of the centre. We can now carry out about 50 different tests per day in two-shift operation.'
In addition, the centre features 13 cold and climate test cabinets for component testing. These cabinets, with volumes ranging from 0.5 to 24 cu m, are used for testing parts such as injectors, windscreen wipers and doors under extreme conditions.
The cold and climate test centre will allow Volkswagen to expedite the product creation process, with considerable savings in both cost and time. 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.Published 11 November 2006