MAHLE Powertrain has developed a new test chamber located at its Real Driving Emissions (RDE) Centre in Northampton. The chamber is a response to high demand for the company’s expertise and facilities, and will be optimised to develop and validate electric vehicle (EV) powertrains.
The £5.1 million investment complements the existing capability of the RDE Centre, which opened in 2018. It will also provide the automotive industry with additional specific hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicle testing capacity.
The new facility is due to open around spring 2022. With demand for such facilities from the motor industry, it proves that the future on the roads is electric.
David Pates, MAHLE Powertrain head of engineering, said: “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.”
“Vehicle manufacturer and tier one customers realised the time and cost benefits of utilising 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.”
The £5.1m investment is being part-funded by a £1.5m grant from the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP), a public-private sector-led organisation tasked with promoting economic growth in the region.
Judith Barker, director of programmes and governance at SEMLEP, said: “We are really pleased to be able to support MAHLE Powertrain’s continuing investment into EV development at Northampton.
“Enhancing technologies and decarbonising our transport choices is very much aligned to our Local Industrial Strategy priorities and the ambitions of the Oxford-Cambridge Arc. We look forward to this further success and see this new facility as an important part in supporting the economic recovery of the South East Midlands post COVID-19.”
Demand for MAHLE Powertrain’s first hypobaric and climatic test chamber pushed capacity in the last 12 months. During this time the company signed off whole vehicle test programmes to overcome travel restrictions.
The second chamber, with an operational temperature range of -20°C to 40°C, will be equipped with a battery emulator for EV testing. It 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.