Volkswagen of America marked the start of construction of its Battery Engineering Lab at its Chattanooga Engineering and Planning Center. The approximately $22-million facility will test and validate electric vehicle cells and battery packs for the North American region.
The new lab will join Volkswagen Chattanooga’s under-construction 564,000 square-foot electric vehicle production expansion and 198,000 square-foot battery pack assembly facility to form Volkswagen’s hub for EV production and engineering in the region.
Volkswagen will test and optimize Georgia-manufactured battery cells at the new lab. This testing will include batteries for the Volkswagen ID.4 all-electric SUV, scheduled to begin US production in 2022.
Besides increasing its engineering capabilities in the region, the engineering lab is also part of Volkswagen’s effort to localize all aspects of vehicle development and production, which lowers production costs and development cycles.
Current battery testing and validation takes place in two labs in Germany, Braunschweig and Wolfsburg, along with Shanghai and Changchun, both in China. Testing and validating battery components in Chattanooga will allow engineers to more quickly apply lessons learned to local production.
VW engineers will test battery components, the integration of the battery with the vehicle and look for more ways to integrate locally produced components into the production process.
The lab will include pressure and immersion testers, corrosion chambers, five explosion-rated climate chambers and a custom, two-ton multi-axis shaker table, which is designed to test the integrity of vehicle components in some of the roughest conditions they might face on the road.
Built with sustainability in mind, the facility will also feature regenerative load cyclers that can return energy to the building or grid to be as efficient as possible.