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News of  February 01, 2000


New Test Facility Speeds Development Of Powertrains at DaimlerChrysler
Auburn Hills, Mich. - DaimlerChrysler's new Powertrain Test Center enables engineers to simulate real-world driving conditions in the controlled environment of the laboratory, resulting in improved quality and faster development times for new powertrain products.


The 5.9 liter engine at a power run 5500 rpm wot (wide open throttle) in DaimlerChrysler's new Powertrain Test Center.

Photo: DaimlerChrysler

With the opening of the Powertrain Test Center, located in five building wings of DaimlerChrysler's Technology Center in Auburn Hills, Michigan, engineers have been able to cut months off the development and testing process. Older generation direct current dynamometers have been replaced with more reliable, state-of-the-art alternating current dynamometers, which are instruments that test and measure powertrain output. The new equipment accurately replicates powertrain performance under the transient throttle and load conditions that are typical of real-world driving conditions. Now engineers calibrate and fine-tune powertrains, the drive systems consisting of an engine and transmission, much earlier and bring new vehicles to market sooner. In addition, overall quality, reliability and customer satisfaction are improved.

"Repeating identical conditions test after test is impossible in the real world, because road and weather conditions naturally vary. By creating real-world conditions in a controlled test environment, powertrains are subject to the same conditions continually and reliably, which results in more accurate data," said Harold Page, Director of Powertrain Laboratories at DaimlerChrysler Corp.

The 250,000 square foot facility was constructed at a cost of $300 million, $24 million below budget. Resources in the new powertrain facility include:

  • 15 specialty testing cells
  • 8 rear wheel drive powertrain development sites
  • 60 engine durability and reliability sites
  • 26 engine performance sites
  • 20 Front Wheel Drive powertrain development and durability sites

" This is a one-of-a-kind facility that is unmatched in the automotive industry," said Page. "Locating the testing facility and platform engineers under one roof at the DaimlerChrysler Technology Center gives the company a competitive advantage. Engineers have immediate access to the testing and their participation in the development process is greatly enhanced."

Such proximity ensures that DaimlerChrysler continues to set industry standards in engineering vehicle development and testing leadership, he added. The facility's test cells provide more wide-ranging and extreme environments and conditions than in the past, responding quickly and accurately to temperature and pressure changes. The cold and hot cells range from temperatures of -65 degrees to 240 degrees F. The engine altitude chamber allows engineers to recreate mountain driving tests by simulating altitude (13,100-foot capability), temperature, humidity and vehicle loads. The real-world simulation tests are conducted 24 hours per day and include:

  • Engine mechanical development
  • Engine, transmission and total powertrain durability testing
  • Engine performance dynamometer testing
  • Catalyst aging tests
  • Heavy-duty truck (above 8,500 lbs. gross vehicle weight)
  • Diesel engine tests

The new facility offers some significant environmental benefits. First, the entire facility is isolated from the environment outside the lab. This ensures that no test water leaves the facility or flows into the city water system. Second, the Powertrain Test Facility will save the company $2 million in electricity each year; continuous testing at the facility generates 20 percent of the complex's electricity needs, essentially powering itself.

(Jan. 25, 2000)

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