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New MAHLE Powertrain build & test facility to aid optimization of EV battery development

MAHLE Powertrain (MPT) is continuing its investment in battery engineering with phase 2 of its electrified powertrain strategy, ePowertrain. This latest investment follows 2019’s launch of MPT’s battery module test and analysis facility, where battery modules can be tested in an array of steady-state and dynamic climatic conditions.

Phase 2 builds on MPT’s electric development programs to aid further EV battery optimization, focusing on advanced understanding of battery architecture, control systems, charging rates, and cooling.

This next phase will provide our vehicle manufacturer and Tier 1 customers with vital battery technology insight, offering a boost to UK manufacturing competitiveness. We will be able to conduct development and validation with the aim of better understanding the technologies that support physical battery chemistry: cooling and control systems, for example, will be the key factors in optimizing battery performance for specific applications.

—Derek Wise, chief engineer for build and test

The new facility, incorporating build and three climatic test chambers, will come online in Q3 2021 for battery development and validation testing, and charge and discharge rates.

Phase 2 will add to MPT’s portfolio of electrical test capability giving a total of 1.25MW electrical power across six separate rigs and chambers. Some innovative new features, designed by MPT, will be included in the battery test chambers to increase flexibility. The test environment will be precisely controlled to mimic a variety of real-world conditions, with temperature control between -40 ˚C and 80 ˚C and humidity control between 24-93%.

The elusive goal that has been mooted by the industry is the ‘million-mile’ battery. For such an ambition to be attainable, collection and strategic use of data relating to battery characteristics will be absolutely essential. It is not simply battery chemistry that is holding back advancement, but the control systems, cooling and charging rates, which have already advanced significantly in recent years as the industry better understands the technology.

MPT’s EV simulation, design and software capabilities will be enhanced by the facility’s HIL and real-world data generation, helping to further accelerate development. By significantly extending the lifecycle of EV batteries we address the second-use conundrum by effectively eliminating the challenge.

—Derek Wise

MAHLE Powertrain’s new development is part of a larger EV development strategy, with further phases being rolled out in 2022. Overall, MAHLE will invest a total of €12 millionin the construction of five new testing and development facilities targeting emobility.

MPT’s main activities lie in the design, simulation, and development of batteries, fuel cells, electric motors, and powertrains, transmissions, software, vehicle electronics, and control systems.


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