As part of an e-mobility offensive from automotive service provider Mahle Powertrain, it has announced it will invest €12m in the construction of five new testing and development facilities for electric vehicles.
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.
With the construction of a test center for traction batteries in Northampton in 2021, the new facility will have a dedicated area for the construction of battery modules and three climatic chambers for testing complete battery packs. It will be available from this autumn for battery development and validation as well as for measuring and optimizing charging and discharging processes.
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 further aid electric vehicle 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,” says Derek Wise, chief engineer for build and test. “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.”
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 -40oC and 80oC and humidity control between 24-93%.
“The elusive goal that has been mooted by the industry is the ‘million-mile’ battery,” said Wise. “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,” he said
Elsewhere, in Stuttgart, Germany, MPT now operates a new test rig for electric drives. This equipment is being used to develop and test e-axles and e-drive units for a wide range of electric and hybrid vehicles.
In addition, MAHLE Powertrain will open a second test chamber at its Real Driving Emissions (RDE) Centre in Northampton,UK this year. The chamber will be ideally suited for the development and validation of electric vehicles under a wide range of climatic conditions and will be equipped with a four-wheel-drive chassis dyno and a battery emulator. It will also have all the safety features needed for testing hydrogen-powered vehicles.
Further new test facilities in Germany and the United States will focus on the development of e-bike drives and the targeted ongoing optimization of clean internal combustion engines.