A dedicated technology center featuring advanced equipment for the development of alternative-fuel powertrains has been opened in the UK.
The Powertrain Development Centre (PDC) located in Banbury is part of a £5m (US$6.1m) investment from motorsport and technology specialists Prodrive, and is designed to find solutions for the automotive industry’s biggest challenges.
Core to the new Powertrain Development Centre is a 660kW transient dyno, one of the most powerful of its kind in the UK, which with temperature, humidity and pressure-controlled induction air can replicate all running conditions, while also providing cooling for engines and electric vehicle (EV) batteries and motors. The ability to simulate exact running conditions means the dyno is particularly suited to durability and performance testing, as well as emission simulation and development.
Able to handle engine outputs of up to 880hp, the dyno is located on an easily-adjustable, modular grid system. This ensures that Prodrive can efficiently tailor it to the layout of any powertrain including the ability to test a full four-wheel-drive electric/hybrid drivetrain.
Complementing the transient dyno cell is a dedicated engine build room, fitted out by Dura, which can accommodate the assembly of up to 12 units. This capability, coupled with the PDC being adjacent to the main workshop, enhances Prodrive’s ability to build complete vehicles and cater for niche OEM projects requiring circa 200-300 units in short timeframes.
Arthur Shaw, chief powertrain engineer at Prodrive, said: “The PDC marks a massive step forward in terms of our engine development capability and complements our existing skills in the design and development of all types of powertrain. The high specification of our new dyno means we are in the best position to calibrate units, allowing our customers to enjoy potential savings in terms of cost and time in comparison to physical testing on the road or track. Additionally, with the new facility bringing the differing stages of our powertrain development all under one roof – spanning the build of the engine right through to its installation in a chassis – there are further efficiency benefits that can be passed on to customers.
“It’s one of the biggest investments that Prodrive has ever made, but with our motorsport operations continuing to grow at a pace and increasing enquiries for the development of complex electric vehicle and hybrid technology, now is the optimum time for us to introduce our Powertrain Development Centre,” he continued.