In the course of its largest model and technology offensive to date, the Volkswagen brand today opened a new Wind Tunnel Efficiency Center in Wolfsburg, which is one of the most modern and efficient in the industry. The center, with a floor area of 8,800 m², is also certified for measurements in accordance with WLTP (Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedures). Vehicles can be tested at wind speeds of up to 250 km/h, simulating real traffic conditions with a view to reducing drag, fuel consumption and emissions. In addition, driving simulations under all the climatic and environmental conditions normally experienced throughout the world can be conducted – at temperatures between –30°C and +60°C.
As regards aerodynamic testing, Board Member for Technical Development Dr. Frank Welsch emphasizes: “These tests are a key factor in improving efficiency and reducing emissions. Thanks to the new center, we are also outstandingly well positioned for the future with respect to other development areas such as aeroacoustics and electric vehicle range.”
In the aerodynamics and acoustics wind tunnel, especially the flat belt balance ensures that real-world driving operation can be simulated. Each individual wheel of the vehicle is positioned on its own flat belt. This allows turning motions of the wheels in a way, which is similar to driving on the road. The balance, with integrated camera system, aligns each model tested fully automatically in less than five minutes. The previous system required about 30 minutes. And the acoustic insulation of the tunnel makes it one of the quietest automotive wind tunnels in the world. At a wind speed of 160 km/h, the tunnel only reaches a sound pressure level of 65 decibels, comparable with TV operated at a reasonable volume or normal speech.
The thermal wind tunnel, which will be able to simulate snow in addition to rain and sunlight following a pilot phase, will allow significantly more real-life tests than its predecessor. The main component of the tunnel is a highly advanced all-wheel-drive roller dynamometer, which also meets all the requirements for road tests.