Wednesday 9 October 2013

Centre for next-generation vehicle testing

Next year will see completion of Ricardo’s £10 million Vehicle Emissions Research Centre (VERC) the company is building in conjunction with Horiba UK.

With its new facility Ricardo will be able to offer companies such as JaguarLandRover (JLR) and other vehicle builders the capability to test new vehicles for a global market to far more extreme limits than would previously have been possible.

Ironically, Ricardo, Horiba and JLR already have a close working harmony. Horiba UK is one of JLR’s principal suppliers of emissions testing equipment with Solihull and Whitley being recent recipients of equipment; Ricardo is JLRs’ preferred supplier for bespoke powertrain assignments and Horiba UK and Ricardo are now united in this ground-breaking research facility that is expected to be compete in the second half of 2014.

Horiba UK has the contract for design, construction and completion of the new centre using the Japanese company’s next-generation vehicle testing equipment.

The new building at Ricardo’s Shoreham Technical Centre will comprise two vehicle test cells, each incorporating four-wheel drive chassis dynamometers and advanced emissions testing equipment.

The vehicle cells will be able to accommodate passenger cars and light trucks of up to 3 tonnes in weight, including advanced hybrid electric vehicles and their associated energy regenerations systems. among the engines likely to be put through their paces at the VERC will be JLR's new Hotfire family of gasoline and diesel engines to be manufcatured at the company's new engine plantin Wolverhampton and likely to feature in Jaguar's new BMW 3-Series challenger.

In planning the facilities, both Ricardo and Horiba will have had in mind JLR’s present and planned future range of vehicles as well as those of other similar vehicles built, or planned to be built in the UK by other OEMs.

The facilities would have been ideal for the recent work that Ricardo completed for Jaguar in respect of the four-wheel drive XJ and XF luxury sedans that it engineered for the UK carmaker to meet demand in the great swathes of North American ‘Snowbelt’ states for snow-ready Jaguar cars. These new XJ and XF models have already opened up new markets for the company's vehicles.

The new Shoreham site will be climatically-controlled within a temperature range of -35C to 55C, thus replicating the conditions present in many aspects of remote hot and cold climate testing locations that would otherwise be necessary.

Ricardo claims such work will allow clean and fuel efficient vehicles to reach the market faster and at lower development cost. 

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