Renegade On Ice
August 13, 2015
If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes.
However, this is the FCA US LLC Climatic Test Facilities in Auburn Hills, where conditions for testing the 4×4 capabilities of a 2015 Jeep® Renegade Trailhawk have been dialed down to a crisp minus 40 degrees.
Coincidentally, 40 below zero is the only point at which the Fahrenheit or Celsius scales agree, and where skin freezes and water is completely frozen; mercury freezes at minus 38 degrees.
Science trivia aside, FCA US has invested $2.5 million for a new 4×4 dynamometer (dyno) to bring another industry-leading capability in house. The cell that houses the new dyno can be chilled to 40 degrees below zero and create winds speeds up to 100 mph to evaluate how its vehicles perform under blizzard-like conditions or heated to 130 degrees Fahrenheit to simulate the extreme heat of the Gulf Coast countries.
“Our world-class environmental test center provides dynamic and static testing conditions to simulate the climatic environments that are experienced by our customers around the world,” said John Nigro, Vice President-Product Development, FCA – North America.
The upgraded drive cell consists of a new front dyno that can handle loads of up to 350 horsepower and a rear dyno up to 650 horsepower. The cell also received a significant upgrade in ductwork and exhaust capabilities to accommodate high-output engines such as the 2016 Ram 2500’s 6.7-liter Cummins High-Output Turbo Diesel with a segment-topping 900 lb.-ft. of torque.
“With more 4×4 and all-wheel-drive (AWD) vehicles in our fleet than ever, this investment will go a long way to providing the durable cars and trucks our customers expect from us,” Nigro added.
The extreme climate test is one of thousands performed daily at the Chrysler technical Center (CTC), located at the FCA US headquarters. It is the auto industry’s only headquarters building where a vehicle design can go from a napkin sketch to production prototype to advertising campaign – and everything in between – under one roof. At 5.4 million square feet, the complex is the second-largest building in the U.S. in floor space (all under one roof). Only the Pentagon is larger. Among its features:
- The aerodynamics testing facility generates the highest wind speeds (160+ mph) of any domestic OEM’s wind tunnel
- Its 129 dynamometer cells run 24 hours a day, seven days a week
- The facility has been running 24/7 since it opened in 1991
- CTC’s current employment numbers (14,000+) represent its historic peak
- The site produces no landfill waste