Friday 5 September 2014

Skoda starts €45 million engine tech centre

Skoda Auto has opened its new engine centre in Mladá Boleslav where Volkswagen Group has invested €45 million over a two-year expansion of the existing technology and development centre.

The Czech car manufacturer is expanding its expertise in engine and powertrain development through this new engine centre.

Skoda’s Tomas Kubik told us: ”Skoda is an integral part of Volkswagen Group. That means that the brands work together as a team, it´s not about being more or less independent. By opening new engine centre, Skoda is proving and strengthening its competences in the development field. The engines we will be developing will not be for ourselves only. We´ll be developing engines for the whole Group.”

He added: “There are more development centres within the group, not just in Wolfsburg. As you probably know, Volkswagen has a goal to become the biggest car producer in the world. Skoda is contributing in reaching that goal and therefore we also have a growth strategy aiming to sell at least 1.5 million cars a year. In order to reach these goals it is necessary to highly invest into the development. The new engine centre is therefore an important step which will help us to grow in the years to come.”

"The new engine centre is an important investment in the future of the Skoda brand and the Czech Republic as a manufacturing base. Skoda represents 115 years of expertise in engine development. We are strengthening this competency through the new engine centre," added Dr Frank Welsch, Skoda board member for technical development.

"The opening of the engine centre is an important step for Skoda Auto, further increasing the competitiveness of the manufacturer internationally and ensuring job security," noted Jaroslav Povšík, chairman of the KOVO MB Trade Union. "With this new facility, I am confident Skoda will increase the appeal of technical careers to young people and that it will be even more attractive as an employer. At the same time, with the new engine centre, Mladá Boleslav has gained another modern building, perfectly complementing its surroundings."

The Czech manufacturer carries out significant development work within Volkswagen Group on brakes, gearboxes, engines and components. Together with Volkswagen Group, the company has invested more than €34 million in the new building and around another €10 million in equipment - making this currently one of the largest development investments of a private company in the Czech Republic.

There are 21 engine test benches at the core of the new engine centre. In addition to testing new engine generations prepared for series production, highly dynamic tests are also possible on the 400kW test benches, such as those necessary for Skoda's motorsport activities.

Another six specialised test stands are used to evaluate the function and durability of individual components and systems of internal combustion engines.

In light of the growing demand on the global use of engines, powertrains can be tested for the highly diverse markets worldwide - designed for different fuel types.

During the construction of the new engine centre, Skoda placed particular emphasis on environmental aspects. Such as the test benches can feed electricity back into the grid or provide power for direct consumption in the building.

Heat from the cooling cycle and exhaust venting when testing the engines will serve the building's heating system through a heat exchanger.

Savings from these measures amount to 1,140MWh of heat energy and 400MWh of electrical energy compared to conventional systems. This corresponds to a reduction of approximately 720 tonnes of CO2 per year.

Skoda is expanding its R&D expertise through the new engine centre. The manufacturer's Česana plant is the fourth-largest in Volkswagen Group, and one of the most modern in the automotive industry. The existing technology centre was opened in 2008, and has been continuously expanded in several steps.

In 2009, the manufacturer opened two climate chambers for vehicle endurance and vehicle heating and air conditioning systems. New acoustic test benches were added at the end of 2010.

Additionally, the test track at Husí Lhota in Úhelnice has been part of the technical development department since 2011. This is where dynamic vehicle tests and crash tests are carried out.

Skoda is the only car manufacturer in the Czech Republic not only producing but also developing cars and components. Technical development currently employs around 1,700 specialists, engineers, designers and constructors.

All vehicles are developed in Mladá Boleslav, not only those for domestic production but also the vehicles that roll off production lines abroad.

The development and production of engines has always been a focus of the company's research and development. To date, Skoda has produced around 11.6 million engines.

The latest example of Skoda's engineering competence was the launch of a new 1-litre MPI three-cylinder engine of the EA 211 series at the main plant in Mladá Boleslav in May. The new powertrain is used in the small and compact vehicles of Skoda, SEAT and Volkswagen.

Skoda has made EA211 series 1.2-litre and 1.4-litre TSI petrol engines since the end of 2012. In addition, EA111 series 1.2-litre HTP engines have been rolling off production lines since 2001. At the beginning of May this year, the manufacturer had produced 3 million 1.2 HTP engines.

Skoda has a tradition of developing and producing engines; in 1899 - four years after launching a company which constructed bicycles - when founding fathers Václav Laurin and Václav Klement (L&K) equipped a bicycle with an auxiliary motor for the first time: the so-called Motocyclette.

In 1905, L&K developed the company's first automobile, bearing the name ‘Voiturette A' - driven by a water-cooled, 7 PS two-cylinder engine with a capacity of 1100cm³. Further engine milestones during the early years included the construction of the first eight-cylinder engine in Central Europe in 1907. By 1924, even aircraft engines were being produced by L&K.

After the 1925 merger with Skoda, the development of engines continued to play an important role. After the Second World War, the first rear engine became a key development step in 1964. 1987 saw the return of the front engine. The decisive impetus for modern powertrain production was the company's association with Volkswagen Group in 1991.

As well as engines, Skoda makes gearboxes. At the Mladá Boleslav plant, the company manufactures MQ 200 manual gearboxes and MQ/SQ 100 gearboxes. The DQ 200 dual-clutch automatic transmission is made at the Vrchlabí plant.

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