With the all-electric Volkswagen ID.4 soon to be revealed in full-production form, Volkswagen has begun expanding its Chattanooga factory in Tennessee to build a North American centre for electric vehicles – not just for assembly, but for engineering the EVs of the future.
Volkswagen’s Engineering and Planning Center is set to feature a state-of-the-art high-voltage laboratory designed to develop and test electric vehicle cells and battery packs for upcoming models assembled in the U.S.
The EPC plans to break ground on the lab soon, with the goal of being fully operational by spring 2021.
Wolfgang Maluche, Vice President of Engineering at Volkswagen of America, says: “There are two ways that auto companies approach the development of electric vehicle batteries,. A lot of them will farm out the development and testing of batteries to another company, and some will actually do the work of developing and testing in-house. We are doing the latter.”
The lab will feature a custom multi-axis shaker table (MAST), which is designed to test the integrity of vehicle components in some of the roughest conditions they might face on the road.
Jason Swager, the Director of Electrical Development, adds: “The battery is not only shaking; it is going through a series of harsh conditions to test its durability in a variety of possible environments, from the South Pole to the Sahara. We needed to build a MAST that could withstand the immense force and frequency that we need to test these batteries.”
In line with Volkswagen’s goal to reach carbon neutrality by 2050, VW says the lab is be as sustainable as possible, through steps such as a battery-to-grid connection that sends unused energy back to utilities.