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Mercedes-Benz unveils new climatic wind tunnel

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By Theodore Opara

Mercedes-Benz has unveiled two new climatic wind tunnels at its Sindelfingen site, designed to bring extreme weather conditions indoors.

Temperatures ranging from minus 40 to plus 60 degrees Celsius, hurricanes with wind speeds of up to 265 km/h, tropical rainfall and heavy snowstorms are all parts of the standard repertoire available here to the test engineers. If needs be, they can even provide a realistic simulation of a mercilessly hot sun.

The new climatic wind tunnels make it possible for the engineers to optimise new vehicles or components for all possible weather conditions at a very early stage of the development process. So in future, real-life road tests, in arctic cold or the blazing heat of the desert, will only take place with prototypes that have already reached an advanced stage of development by being thoroughly tried and tested under the most extreme climatic influences. This enables Mercedes-Benz to achieve the highest possible quality. The clear ambition to do so has been a key element in the philosophy of the world’s oldest automotive manufacturer for the last 125 years.

Cars these days first take shape on the computer. The initial crash tests, aerodynamic studies or suspension testing, too, are undertaken as electronic simulations in a virtual world, long before the first prototype is built. Simulations like this can never, however, replace the use of test rigs or real-life tests.

In order to close further the gap between simulation and real-life testing, Mercedes-Benz has now taken two new state-of-the-art climatic wind tunnels at its Sindelfingen site into operation, following two years of construction work. This marks the completion to schedule of the next stage of expansion for the Mercedes-Benz Technology Centre. Research, development, design, planning and production teams work together at the Sindelfingen location in a close network that is unmatched by any other automotive manufacturer in the world.

One of the two new climatic wind tunnels is designed as a cold tunnel, with a temperature range of minus 40 to plus 40 degrees Celsius. The new hot tunnel, on the other hand, offers a temperature range of minus 10 to plus 60 degrees. Each tunnel is equipped with an integrated twin-axle roller dynamometer that allows speeds of up to 265 km/h – and thus with sufficient reserves for even sports cars to be tested on the rig here.

The new climatic wind tunnels replace the cold tunnel that has been used until now, in which temperatures down to minus 20 degrees Celsius and speeds of up to 64 km/h are possible, as well as a hot tunnel in which the maximum limits are plus 40 degrees Celsius and a top speed of 100 km/h.

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