A new test facility has been developed in Michigan to help vehicle manufacturers and their suppliers increase the efficiency of vehicle drivelines. Developed and operated by Drive System Design Inc., the North American subsidiary of U.K.-based driveline engineering consultancy Drive System Design, the facility will help manufacturers lower emissions, improve fuel economy and increase electric vehicle range.
“The current focus on real-world emissions means the efficiency challenge has suddenly become substantially more critical, yet parasitic and other losses are still draining energy unnecessarily,” says Jon Brentnall, president DSD Inc. “Our parent company has developed what we believe is Europe’s most advanced, commercially-available development center for vehicle driveline efficiency, with many test systems designed in-house to ensure that areas that have not previously received sufficient attention can now be investigated. It is our intention to build similar test capability tailored to the North American market.”
The facility will initially house a loaded transmission efficiency test rig and will be developed throughout the year to finally include three pieces of driveline test equipment. The current rig, which is fully operational, is suitable for all transmission types, including engine accessory drives, such as supercharger gearboxes. It will largely be used for transmission efficiency testing and the data produced will also ensure that transmission efficiency math models produced in-house are well correlated.
Further expansion throughout the year will include a hydraulic test stand for hydraulic valve body development and a tilt rig, which provides enhanced lubrication flow analysis capability. “This will require a larger facility in the area, which we are already investigating,” says Brentnall. “We are delighted to be offering this opportunity for the automotive industry in North America, but also for aspiring engineers looking for their next challenge – the initial expansion has already generated nine engineering vacancies.”
The facility’s first project is the test and development of a full parallel hybrid transmission for a front-wheel drive application for a North American vehicle manufacturer.
The new facility will also include extensive customer accessibility, allowing DSD’s engineers to work closely with its customers throughout design, development and validation programs. “Our consultant engineers in Europe found that they were able to produce designs that theoretically provided significant, low cost improvements in efficiency, but that the test facilities were not available to focus development attention in the appropriate areas,” Brentnall explains. “The answer was to develop their own test systems, designed specifically for this increasingly important area of driveline engineering. With the accelerating trend to electrification, the test center is also designed for mild and full hybrid drivelines and full electric drivelines.”