UK: Mahle Powertrain opens new Vehicle Development Centre

Mahle Powertrain has completed two new test sites in Northampton, after investing £15Mn over the last five years, including £3.6m of UK Government funding. The purpose-built facilities permit the safe testing of new vehicles, batteries and hydrogen technologies under even the most extreme simulated conditions, so Mahle.

The German supplier also noted “unprecedented demand” ahead of declaring the centre open for business by Andrew Lewer, MP for Northampton South. He said Mahle’s investment recognised “the huge wealth of engineering talent in this country, and this region in particular – a stone’s throw from the heart of British motorsport – with 160 skilled technicians and engineers already employed at the site.”

A £15m investment programme over the last five years, including £3.6m from the UK Local Growth Fund and SEMLEP (South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership), has allowed Mahle Powertrain to open the new ‘Vehicle Development Centre’ (VDC) that enables manufacturers to test both two- and four-wheel-drive vehicles.

The new facility focuses on battery development and validation and the measurement and optimisation of charging and discharging processes. Battery testing is done in collaboration with National Grid so that the utility can directly use the discharge from batteries through its substation.

At the same time, the VDC accommodates hydrogen-fuel technology testing in chambers that monitor and safely vent any escaping gases, so Mahle.

The company had already commissioned a first development facility on site in 2019 and added a second test chamber for developing and validating electric vehicles under various climatic conditions at its Real Driving Emissions (RDE) Centre in Northhampton.

In today’s statement, Mahle stressed that they can replicate different climates without the need for international travel, i.e. “the coldest arctic climates and the hottest arid deserts, the humidity of a tropical rainforest or the pressure experienced at the highest peaks.”

In technical terms, Mahle Powertrain can simulate temperatures from -40°C to +60°C with humidity ranging from 10% to 80%, while pressure control allows altitudes up to 5,000m (16,400ft).

The Mahle subsidiary now has seven technical centres in the UK, Germany, USA, and China. It operates independently of the main Mahle group when choosing components or technologies.

Mahle Powertrain announced the new test centre in Northhampton in March 2021 as part of an investment in five new test and development facilities.


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