With recently removed Management Chairman Dr. Bernd Pischetsrieder, and Supervisory Chairman Dr. Ferdinand Piëch looking on, Dr. Wolfgang Bernhard, Chairman of the Volkswagen Brand, flipped the switch and officially opened VeeDub's new cold and climate center. The massively expensive facility (about 30 million euros or $38.3 mil) is actually designed to save VW money. It will allow them to simulate more extreme weather conditions than they would encounter in the wild and will also permit them to speed up the development process by not having to rely on Mother Nature. The test center can replicate temperatures ranging from -40 to +150 degrees Celsius (-40 to 302 degrees F), direct sun exposure, up to 95 percent humidity, high altitudes and extreme winds. "This is an investment that sets new standards for the automobile industry," added Engine Development Head, Dr. Rudolf Krebs. Does it also mean no more spy shots of VWs outd doing hot and cold weather testing?

More pics and full press release after the jump.

[Source: VW]

Press Release:

New Volkswagen cold and climate test center now in service

Innovative technology ensures realistic simulation of natural climates
Multi-million euro investment

Wolfsburg, 06 November 2006 -
Volkswagen inaugurated the new cold and climate test center at its Wolfsburg plant on Monday. Dr. Wolfgang Bernhard, Chairman of the Volkswagen Brand, opened the center, with a total area of 5400 square meters, in the presence of 150 invited guests including the Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft, Dr. Bernd Pischetsrieder, and the Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Dr. Ferdinand Piëch. "The new cold and climate test center will significantly reduce development times for our new models because we will be able to conduct a much wider range of tests in our labs," said Bernhard. "Our engineers will be able to analyse and optimize development vehicles faster. This will save time and money and make for even higher quality."

The new center, which cost about 30 million euros, is designed for comprehensive testing under a wide variety of climatic conditions at temperatures ranging from -40 to +150 degrees Celsius. Even direct solar radiation, humidities up to 95 percent, elevations up to 3000 meters and wind blast can all be simulated. "This is an investment that sets new standards for the automobile industry," added Dr. Rudolf Krebs, Head of Engine Development.

From the Fox sub-compact through to commercial vehicles, all Volkswagen models face laboratory testing as one of the key components of technical development. The seven test chambers with highly advanced roller and test rig systems as well as an additional engine test bed are all available for laboratory testing.

Vehicles will no longer be heated or cooled to the test temperatures required in the test chambers themselves, as was previously the case, but in upstream conditioning boxes. Dr. Jens Pohlmann, Head of the Cold and Climate Test Center, explains: "This approach has significantly increased the capacity of the center. We can now carry out about 50 different tests per day in two-shift operation.

In addition, the center features 13 cold and climate test cabinets for component testing. These cabinets, with volumes ranging from 0.5 to 24 cubic meters, are used for testing parts such as injectors, windscreen wipers and doors under extreme climatic conditions.

The cold and climate test center will allow Volkswagen to expedite the product creation process, with considerable cost and time savings. To date, changes in the design and development phase have been very costly and time-consuming. In future, it will be possible to include initial experience with prototypes in the development process at an earlier stage.

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