New state-of-the-art vehicle & battery test facilities open in Northampton, UK
07 July 2022
Tesla in VDC red light
New MAHLE Powertrain Northampton facilities represent £15m investment over the last 5 years to support the automotive industry’s rapid decarbonisation. Purpose-built facilities enable engineering services for the development of next-generation vehicle powertrains, including batteries & hydrogen fuel cells. Welcoming the investment & employment opportunities, MP for Northampton South, Andrew Lewer opened the facility.
Automotive powertrain R&D specialist, MAHLE Powertrain has announced the completion of two new facilities in Northampton, the result of a £15m investment over the last five years (including £3.6m of UK Government funding), that will deliver much-needed testing capability as the automotive industry accelerates its transition towards decarbonised propulsion. The purpose-built facilities allow MAHLE Powertrain to support customers with every aspect of development for the future of mobility, permitting the safe testing of vehicles, batteries and hydrogen technologies, under even the most extreme simulated environmental conditions. Amid unprecedented demand, the centre was declared open for business by Andrew Lewer, MP for Northampton South.
“We’re extremely proud of our new test facilities which complement our end-to-end development process,” said Simon Reader, MAHLE Powertrain’s Managing Director. “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.”
Andrew Lewer, MP for Northampton South said: “I’m delighted to be able to declare this important new facility open for business. MAHLE Powertrain’s investment recognises the huge wealth of engineering talent in this country, and this region in particular – a stone’s throw from the heart of British motorsport – with 160 skilled technicians and engineers already employed at the site.”
Andrew Lewer MP & Simon Reader
A £15m investment programme over the last five years, including £3.6m from the UK Local Growth Fund and SEMLEP (South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership), has allowed MAHLE Powertrain to increase its engineering capabilities in support of the automotive industry in development of future mobility.
The new Vehicle Development Centre (VDC) allows manufacturers to test both two- and four-wheel-drive vehicles in a variety of conditions and circumstances, all without the need for a gruelling programme of international travel. The facility 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. In addition, the facility’s forward-thinking design supports the testing of hydrogen-fuelled technologies by monitoring and safely venting any escaping gases.
The creation of a new battery testing facility which, thanks to a collaboration with the National Grid, allows battery packs to be developed internally and rigorously tested without wasting energy, returning it to the grid wherever possible, really complements the service offering to customers in the field of battery development.
Audi Q3 in VDC solar array
The new Vehicle Development Centre supports the testing and verification of next-generation electric and hydrogen-fuelled vehicles. The facility’s 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. Hydrogen-fuelled technologies can be rigorously tested in chambers that monitor and safely vent any escaping gases. The new battery testing facility, meanwhile, 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.
MAHLE Powertrain’s is already experiencing high levels of interest from automotive manufacturers across the globe, keen to capitalise on the new facility’s capabilities and the company’s expertise in developing innovative solutions.
MAHLE is a leading international development partner and supplier to the automotive industry with customers in the passenger car and commercial vehicle sectors. The technology group, founded in 1920, is working on the climate-neutral mobility of tomorrow with a focus on electromobility and thermal management as well as other technology fields to reduce CO2 emissions. Currently the share of its sales earned independently from the internal combustion engine for passenger cars amounts to more than 60% and is to increase to 75% by 2030. Half of all the vehicles in the world now contain MAHLE components.
About MAHLE Powertrain
MAHLE Powertrain is a specialist in providing engineering services for the design, development and integration of advanced internal combustion engines and electrified powertrain systems. As a recognised expert in these fields, MAHLE Powertrain is engaged in the extensive research, development and application of new traditional and advanced drivelines into cost-effective, production feasible solutions for enhanced efficiency, improved fuel economy and lower emissions.
As a services subsidiary of the MAHLE Group, MAHLE Powertrain has seven technical centres strategically located in the UK, Germany, USA, and China and is well-placed to provide solutions around the globe. It operates independently of the main group when considering choice of components or technologies.
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