Mahle Powertrain has opened two new facilities in Northampton that will deliver testing capability for automotive manufacturers as they transition towards decarbonised propulsion.
The new Vehicle Development Centre supports the testing and verification of next-generation electric and hydrogen-fuelled vehicles, allowing manufacturers to test both two- and four-wheel-drive vehicles, all without the need for a gruelling programme of international travel.
It can replicate the conditions found in the coldest arctic climates and the hottest arid deserts, the humidity of a tropical rainforest or the pressure experienced at the highest peaks.
Also, hydrogen-fuelled technologies can be rigorously tested in chambers that monitor and safely vent any escaping gases.
Meanwhile, the new Battery Testing Facility, with its own substation and dedicated National Grid connection, has the capability to test battery packs of up to 1MW with full fire protection in the event of a thermal runaway.
Its test chambers can accommodate both two- and four-wheel-drive vehicles tested at speeds up to 155mph.
Climatic conditions can be simulated from -40°C to +60°C with humidity ranging from 10% to 80%, while pressure control allows altitudes up to 5,000m (16,400ft) to be simulated.
The facilities are the result of a £15m investment programme over the last five years, including £3.6m from the UK Local Growth Fund and South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP).
Simon Reader, Mahle Powertrain’s Managing Director said: “We’re extremely proud of our new test facilities which complement our end-to-end development process.
“As the industry accelerates the development of a new generation of vehicles that will offer carbon-neutral solutions for the transport sector, it creates a huge demand for testing facilities.
“Our new centre has been designed with both battery and future-fuelled vehicles in mind and provides a spread of capabilities that is almost unique anywhere in the world.”