Volkswagen has opened its new Wind Tunnel Efficiency Centre to help develop future models.
You might think that wind tunnels are used exclusively by the likes of Boeing for aircraft or Formula 1 teams, however, your road car likely spent some time in one during its development. As efficiency becomes more important, these unique lab environments are now essential to manufacturers.
The new 8,800m² facility in Wolfsberg Germany features a wind tunnel capable of recreating gusts of up to 155mph. Engineers can use data gathered in the tunnel to design more aerodynamic cars that will help boost overall efficiency. The cleaner a car cuts through the air, the less fuel it will use in the process.
Manufacturers also have to factor for temperature extremes around the world. The Volkswagen Golf is sold in places as cold as Norway to the considerable heat of the United Arab Emirates. VW’s Wind Tunnel Efficiency Centre can summon temperatures as low as -30°C or as high as +60°C to make sure its cars work no matter where they go.
This centre is so advance that it goes beyond simply replicating temperature. It can actually simulate snowy and rainy conditions thanks to the thermal wind tunnel and an all-wheel drive dynamometer. This data will be just about as close to 'real world' as a lab test can be.
VW is also trying to be a good neighbour by making its wind tunnels some of the quietest. Usually these huge fans create quite a racket, but engineers managed to hush its operation to being no louder than a normal conversation.
Volkswagen is aiming to renew its entire range by 2020 and is currently working on over 50 different vehicle projects. The brand’s commitment to electric vehicle technology means that many of these projects are aiming to improve battery efficiency in real world conditions.