Mahle Powertrain says it has broken ground on a new test chamber located at its Real Driving Emissions (RDE) Centre in Northampton, UK, which is being developed in response to ever-growing demand for electric and hydrogen fuel cell powertrain testing.
“We’re very excited to be breaking ground on our new chamber. The demand for this facility reflects the agile, fast-paced evolution of the automotive industry’s current push for development of advanced powertrain technologies,” said David Pates, Mahle Powertrain head of engineering. “Vehicle manufacturer and Tier 1 customers realized the time and cost benefits of utilizing our first test chamber during lockdown, and this investment will further broaden our capabilities as the industry emerges from the pandemic having adopted new, more flexible ways of working.”
Mahle notes that demand for its first hypobaric and climatic test chamber at the site pushed capacity in the last 12 months, over which time the company signed off whole vehicle test programs for manufacturers in order to overcome travel restrictions. The second chamber, with an operational temperature range of -20°C to 40°C, is to be equipped with a battery emulator for EV testing and will also be capable of simulating solar loading. It has been designed with blast walls and a domed chamber roof as in-built safety measures for the handling of hydrogen.
“We estimate that 73% of passenger cars globally will still feature an internal combustion engine by 2035, and over 50% by 2040, so we don’t anticipate any drop in the high level of demand experienced for our first chamber,” added Pates. “For this reason, it made sense for the latest investment to complement our existing capability by increasing its specific focus on electrification and hydrogen-fueled powertrain. We believe that the ability to provide facilities dedicated to the industry’s diverse propulsion requirements will be extremely beneficial for ambitious manufacturers and Tier 1 suppliers.”
The groundbreaking ceremony for the chamber followed hot on the heels of the opening of a new e-axle test facility in Fellbach, Germany, and the company is also due to commence operations at a new battery pack build and test facility in Northampton later this year.