Mahle Powertrain has completed two new test sites in Northampton, having invested £15m over the last five years, including £3.6m from UK Government funding. Purpose-built facilities allow new vehicles, batteries and hydrogen technologies to be safely tested under even the most extreme simulated conditions.
The investment program has enabled Mahle Powertrain to open a new "Vehicle Development Center" (VDC) that allows testing of both front wheel drive and all wheel drive vehicles.
The new facility focuses on the development and testing of batteries, as well as the measurement and optimization of charging and discharging processes. Battery testing is being done in collaboration with National Grid so that the utility can directly exploit battery discharge through its substation.
At the same time, VDC is testing hydrogen fuel technology in chambers that control and safely remove any escaping gases. The company has already commissioned its first test facility in 2019 and added a second test chamber to develop and test electric vehicles in various climates at its Real Driving Emissions (RDE) Center in Northampton.
In a recent statement, Mahle emphasized that it can reproduce different climates without the need for international travel, i.e. "the coldest arctic climate and the hottest arid deserts, rainforest humidity or the pressure experienced at the highest peaks".
From a technical point of view, Mahle Powertrain can simulate temperatures from -40°C to +60°C with humidity from 10% to 80%, and pressure control allows operation at altitudes up to 5000m (16400 ft ).