July 2, 2002

DaimlerChrysler opens state-of-the-art wind tunnel

Auburn Hills — DaimlerChrysler Corporation opened a new $37.5 million wind tunnel facility on Friday that will provide the company with state-of-the-art aerodynamic and acoustic testing capability in the design and engineering of future Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge vehicles.

“This new facility underscores our company’s continued investment in the future and our commitment to bringing high quality, appealing products to our customers,” said Dieter Zetsche, Chrysler Group President and Chief Executive Officer.

“The Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles created with the help of this wind tunnel promise to break new ground in design and performance characteristics, including enhanced fuel efficiency and reduced wind noise.”

The 31,000-square-foot Aero-Acoustic Wind Tunnel facility, which will also be used for racing vehicle development, can accommodate vehicles up to 10,000 pounds. The 18-foot turntable permits precise positioning of vehicles during testing. The facility’s fans can generate winds in excess of 150 miles per hour to assess aerodynamic drag and wind noise.

“Reducing the air drag is the most efficient way to improve fuel economy, which is a top priority for us,” said Dr. Zetsche. “Since the noise levels of powertrains have been greatly reduced, wind noise management is more important than ever. We now have the best tool in the industry to become the benchmark in both areas in the future.”

With the use of acoustic materials and other design elements to minimize background sound, the facility is acoustically the quietest wind tunnel currently in use in the automotive industry. This permits the precise analysis of the wind noise characteristics of new vehicle designs. Constant temperature controls allow for precise, repeatable acoustic testing.

The Aero-Acoustic Wind Tunnel is the latest addition to the Scientific Laboratories at the DaimlerChrysler Technology Center, including an expanded powertrain test facility opened in 2000.

The new aerodynamic and acoustic test facility is located on the south side of the technology center, with easy access to the Design and Engineering centers and vehicle fabrication shops.

The Aero-Acoustic Wind Tunnel is designed to accomplish three functions in the vehicle development process:

  • Enhance fuel efficiency and performance of Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles through improved aerodynamic design

  • Minimize wind noise levels
  • Validate performance of exterior vehicle components through whole-vehicle testing in operating speed ranges.

“In this tunnel, we can produce wind speeds of more than 150 miles per hour,” said Mark Gleason, Supervisor of Aerodynamic Wind Tunnels. “That enables us to test the aerodynamic, acoustic and functional performance of even the fastest vehicles for the American and European markets. And, we will also be a major factor in the development of racing vehicles supported by DaimlerChrysler.

“In addition, the wind tunnel is large enough to accommodate testing of the full range of vehicles,” Gleason said. “We can test everything from a Dodge SRT-4 to the largest Ram pickup without concern that there will be significant distortions in the air flow in the tunnel. That gives us a real advantage over smaller wind tunnels.”

Gleason will head up a team of seven aerodynamic and acoustic engineers who will conduct operations at the new facility, which is already fully booked through the end of 2002.

DaimlerChrysler designers and engineers will continue to use the company’s three-eighths model wind tunnel and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) as complementary tools to the new full-scale facility.

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