Auburn Hills wind tunnel part of Stellantis engineering investment – Detroit News

A $29.5 million investment into new technology for aerodynamics testing at Jeep maker Stellantis NV’s wind tunnel in Auburn Hills is a part of a nearly $35 million (33 million euro) effort to enhance the automaker’s engineering efforts.

The upgrades in the wind tunnel and at the Orbassano Safety Center near Turin, Italy, seek to help with the testing of new electric vehicles, which Stellantis expects will represent half of its U.S. sales by 2030.

In Auburn Hills, construction is in progress to install moving ground plane technology, expected to be ready in 2024. The rolling road simulates on-road travel while allowing test vehicles to remain static. It allows for more accurate aerodynamics measurements, according to the company, which can help to reduce drag and increase the range of EVs.

Specifically, the technology can measure ventilation drag, which is the resistance from wheels and tires in motion. It accounts for up to 10% of aerodynamic drag. The rolling road is part of an $85 million commitment included in the company’s 2019 contract with the United Auto Workers. Two other Stellantis facilities in Europe use the technology as well.

At Orbassano, the $5.3 million investment (5 million euro) is helping to conduct safety testing of various electrified vehicles and automated driving features on four test tracks. The facility runs at least two crash tests a day and is on track to test more than 275 electrified vehicles this year. Those include the capability for newer tests evaluated by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety such as the passenger-side small overlap test.

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Camera footage and instrument data collected can be shared with other facilities around the world, including the Chelsea Proving Grounds and locations in France and Brazil.

“Our world-class tech hubs across the globe,” Harald Wester, Stellantis’ chief engineering officer, said in a statement, “are doing the work today that will make tomorrow’s Stellantis vehicles industry leaders in capability, performance and safety.”

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