DETROIT — Higher emission standards faced by its North American customers have prompted FEV to invest $ 15 million in a Detroit-area vehicle development center.
The expansion also was triggered by a shortage of available testing space at other companies, according to FEV.
FEV North America, the U.S. unit of German engineering and testing firm FEV Group, has long performed vehicle testing services in the Detroit area. But new standards are requiring more intensive testing capabilities.
The company wants to offer a full set of testing services to U.S. automakers.
FEV has a powertrain center and a vehicle lab nearby but was lacking the emission measurement equipment to handle new requirements.
“That’s why we decided to build our vehicle testing facility,” Dean Tomazic, FEV chief technical officer, said during a media tour at the Auburn Hills, Mich., center.
The 26,000-square-foot building can also handle benchmarking, fuels research, climatic testing and electric range development, among other functions.
“It’s one-stop shopping,” Tomazic said. “We don’t have to go anywhere else. We do everything in house. We can do it quicker and reduce the cost to our customers, rather than going to third parties, incurring additional shipment costs and increasing time frame.”
The company said that meeting future regulations for gasoline and diesel vehicles will require automakers to validate vehicle emissions to a Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle Level or Euro 5/6. In addition to testing at that level, the center will be able to evaluate emissions in particulate matter and formaldehydes.
The center can control operational temperatures ranging from minus 20 to 40 degrees Celsius (minus 4 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit), allowing customers to test propulsion systems in a wide set of conditions.
“In the past, we were outsourcing all of our vehicle testing in the greater Detroit area,” Tomazic said. “The issue that we faced is that the other facilities all have very different capabilities. Some can only do two-wheel drive but not four-wheel drive, but the ones that have four-wheel drive don’t have particulate matter or particulate number measurement. Some can only do room temperature, some can only go down to minus 10 Celsius. And it’s very hard to find a lab with diesel capability.”
Finding available testing space anywhere has been a challenge. Alan Bedewi, an FEV lead engineer, said the company recently needed to perform range testing on some electric vehicles under different climatic conditions.
“I ended up having to fly halfway across the country to find a lab that I could get in to do this,” Bedewi said. “There is a really strong need for it.”
The Auburn Hills center was designed for future expansion. An area has been reserved for a second chassis dynamometer, which would double capacity at the facility. Land was reserved on the south side of the building for a multistory office building, which Tomazic said is roughly two to three years away.
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