Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is going to be investing $2.5 million for a new 4×4 dyno that will have rain and snow testing capabilities. Testing new vehicles out doors must be a thing of the past, the need for a location to be able to test in any conditions, at any time, is FCAs goal.
The Chrysler Technology Center (CTC) at FCA United States headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan is the only place in North American that you test the 4×4 capabilities at minus 40 degrees with snow whipping around at 100 mph, while a short distance away one can be at 130 degrees. FCA US LLC is using its all-new 4×4 dyno at CTC to bring another industry-leading capability in house. Testing is done in blizzard-like conditions in order to evaluate, among other things, how a vehicle performs when dense snow clogs its air intakes.
The investment is going to upgrade the existing climatic test cell. The upgraded drive cell consists of a new front dyno that can handle loads of up to 350 horsepower with a rear dyno operating up to 650 horsepower. The cell also received a significant upgrade in ductwork and exhaust capabilities to accommodate high-output engines such as the 2016 Ram 2500’s 6.7-liter Cummins High-Output Turbo Diesel with a segment-topping 900 lb.-ft. of torque.
This is truly a world class testing facility, that can put a vehicle through conditions more severe than it may ever see on the roads. The climatic cells not only test frigid below zero temperatures but it can test extreme heat conditions as well.
The ability to have a facility like this at the disposal of a vehicle manufacture is a real advantage when they are designing a vehicle. To be able to take the vehicle to the CTC, test it, then make adjustments all in house will help with the costs of design, and hopefully be something that is passed down in the price of the vehicle.
“Our world-class environmental test center provides dynamic and static testing conditions to simulate the climatic environments that are experienced by our customers around the world,” said John Nigro, Vice President-Product Development, FCA-North America. “With more 4×4 and all-wheel-drive (AWD) vehicles in our fleet than ever, this investment will go a long way to providing the durable cars and trucks our customers expect from us.”
The size of the CTC is mind blowing. It is 5.4 million square feet of floor space makes it the largest headquarters of any kind in North America except for the Pentagon. A football field is 57,600 square feet in size, the CTC could fit over 93 football fields within it.
Some of the other features that the CTC are, it is an aerodynamics testing facility generates the highest wind speeds (160+ mph) of any domestic OEM’s wind tunnel, its 129 dynamometer cells run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the site produces no landfill waste, and it currently employees over 14,000 people.
Don’t think it can get any better? The CTC has been running 24/7 since it opened in 1991. The stats are incredible. This is one facility that leaves nothing out. With the technology they have and will have with the investment, we can only sit back and wait to see what new features and vehicles come from FCA.