Stellantis spends large on testing facilities

Stellantis said it recently invested €33 million in two of its global testing facilities.

The recent improvements include:

Orbassano Safety Centre, near Turin, Italy, has been fully integrated with digital engineering processes and significantly upgraded to host four test tracks with four impact points and capabilities for full testing of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and automated driving technology for passenger cars, trucks , and light commercial vehicles.

Wind tunnel in Auburn Hills, Michigan, is scaling up with the addition of moving ground plane technology, which simulates road travel and provides more accurate vehicle aerodynamic measurements. Reducing wind resistance improves the driving range of BEVs.

“Our world-class engineering hubs around the world are doing the work today that will make tomorrow’s Stellantis vehicles market leaders in capacity, performance and safety,” said Harald Wester, Chief Engineering Officer.

“Our tech community is fueled by talent, diversity and global reach, and we work closely with the other global functions, such as our Monozokuri colleagues, to drive the core of our technology transformation. It gives us a comprehensive view of the challenges and allows us to consider and refine a full menu of mobility solutions that will put us at the forefront of the race to innovate and improve.”

The €5 million worth of upgrades for the Orbassano Safety Center will enable it to test all types of electrified vehicles: mild hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery-electric vehicles. The facility is currently conducting at least two crash tests per day and is on track to test more than 275 electric vehicles this year. Vehicles tested at Orbassano can be certified to meet more than 175 international safety and technology standards.

The test track impact zone is equipped with a movable Messring block for front and side impacts, and Orbassano conducts some of the industry’s most challenging tests, including the small overlap test on the passenger side used by the US Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Orbassano’s test tracks include a computerized camera positioning system with 13 movable outboard camera locations above the point of impact. In addition, the tracks offer the option of high-speed video images underneath, while up to five cameras can be mounted on board the test vehicle.

All of these views, plus the instrumented data, provide engineers with valuable data for evaluating current and future vehicle designs. In addition, the data is shared with facilities around the world, including the additional safety testing centers in Belchamp, France; Chelsea, Michigan and Betim, Brazil, to refine digital vehicle development models.

This facility is fully integrated with the digital safety process, enabling the most efficient vehicle development and covering virtually all possible field accident scenarios.

The new circuits are ready for future test modes related to the introduction of automated driving functions on all types of vehicles.

Orbassano’s arsenal includes static and dynamic test rigs for factors such as pedestrian collisions, roof crushing and tilting, and test sleds to evaluate seats and vehicle interiors. Seat and interior testing becomes more important as the adoption of future automated driving technologies opens up the potential for new in-cab seating configurations.

Work is underway at the wind tunnel complex in Auburn Hills, Michigan, to install moving ground plane technology (rolling road), which simulates driving on the road while test vehicles remain static. Stellantis is investing $29.5 million in the project.

Seat belts allow wheel movement at all four corners of the vehicle, while a fifth seat belt runs under the vehicle as if it were rolling down a roadway. Moving ground plane technology also makes it possible to measure air resistance, the drag associated exclusively with moving wheels and tires. It accounts for up to 10 percent of total real-world drag.

The existing aerodynamic testing facility in Auburn Hills generates wind speeds of up to 240 mph. The moving ground aircraft installation, part of an estimated $85 million commitment included in the company’s 2019 contract with the United Auto Workers, is expected to become operational in 2024.

The added capacity will complement the Auburn Hills aero-acoustic wind tunnel as part of a global network of leading centers also equipped with moving ground plane technology, including two facilities in Europe.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.