The first climate wind tunnel operated by a Chinese joint venture automotive partner opened at the Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center (PATAC), GM’s automotive engineering and design joint venture with SAIC in Shanghai. The facility will support the development of conventional and new energy vehicles by PATAC and Shanghai GM.
The facility covers an area of about 3,400 square meters and represents an investment of nearly RMB 180 million ($28.5 million). It features advanced technologies and equipment, including the test cabin, wind turbines, cooling/heating systems, chassis dynamometers, a sunshine/rain/snow simulation system, a data acquisition system and a sophisticated road simulation rotating hub system.
It features several industry firsts in China:
It is the first climate wind tunnel in China that can provide rain and snow simulations.
It has a wind-speed deviation of less than 1% and a maximum wind speed of 250 kilometers (155 mph) per hour.
It has the widest temperature simulation range of -40 degrees to 60 degrees Celsius (140 degrees Fahrenheit), the fastest temperature conversion rate of 0.6 degrees Celsius per minute and the largest humidity simulation range of 5% to 95%.
It has the most technologically advanced, controllable full-spectrum sunshine simulation system, with sunshine intensity of 1,200 watts per square meter, similar to some of the harshest warm-weather climates like the Gobi desert.
The climate wind tunnel can simulate a range of weather and road conditions for the development of products for different countries and regions. The facility can also simulate extreme weather conditions for on-site road tests. Breaking seasonal and regional restrictions, it can replace around 80 percent of climate road tests, improve the efficiency of vehicle development and speed the development process.
Users can precisely adjust the automatic air-conditioning controls for the development of comfortable vehicles and the integration of vehicle climate systems.
The tunnel is equipped to test New Energy Vehicles—including full electric and hybrid models—to optimize electric range performance which is highly dependent on the efficient integration of passenger HVAC and propulsion cooling systems. The climate wind tunnel is a key tool to helping improve the fuel efficiency of conventional vehicles and the range performance of New Energy Vehicles.
The new facility has about 500 cubic meters (17,657 cubic feet) of insulating materials to minimize heat loss. In addition, paint and materials used in its construction are not harmful to the environment, and its wind turbines and refrigeration facilities are laid out to reduce oscillation and noise.
PATAC is a 50-50 joint venture between GM and SAIC. It provides automotive engineering services, including design, development, testing and validation of components and vehicles. It is one of GM’s six global research and development centers. Among PATAC’s achievements are the development of the Chevrolet New Sail and Buick GL8 luxury MPV, and the reengineering of the Buick LaCrosse, Cadillac SLS and other products for Shanghai GM.