The Volkswagen brand opened a new Wind Tunnel Efficiency Center in Wolfsburg, which is one of the most modern and efficient in the industry. The center, with a floor area of 8,800 m², is also certified for measurements in accordance with WLTP (Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedures).
Vehicles can be tested at wind speeds of up to 250 km/h (155 mph), simulating real traffic conditions with a view to reducing drag, fuel consumption and emissions. In addition, driving simulations under all the climatic and environmental conditions normally experienced throughout the world can be conductedat temperatures between -30 °C (-22 ˚F) and +60 °C (140 ˚F).
|The diameter of the fan of the new aerodynamic/aeroacoustic wind tunnel is eight meters. Click to enlarge.|
Each wheel of the vehicle is positioned on its own flat belt. This allows turning motions of the wheels in a way similar to driving on the road. The balance, with integrated camera system, aligns each model tested fully automatically in less than five minutes. The previous system required about 30 minutes.
The acoustic insulation of the tunnel makes it one of the quietest automotive wind tunnels in the world. At a wind speed of 160 km/h (99 mph), the tunnel only reaches a sound pressure level of 65 decibels, comparable with TV operated at a reasonable volume or normal speech.
The thermal wind tunnel, which will be able to simulate snow in addition to rain and sunlight following a pilot phase, will allow significantly more real-life tests than its predecessor. The main component of the tunnel is a highly advanced all-wheel-drive roller dynamometer, which also meets all the requirements for road tests.
Using the new center, the Volkswagen brand will significantly reduce the cost of tests previously carried out in remote areas. In addition, cooperation between development areas such as vehicle safety, design, acoustics and comfort will be facilitated as a result of the shorter distances involved; this also applies to the central workshop area. The foundation stone for the center was laid in June 2014. Wind tunnels are still essential for homologation and a wide variety of detailed improvements to vehicles. For example, an aerodynamic drag value can be determined in about 20 minutes. A computer calculation would take days.