Daimler has invested 52 million euros in its two climate tunnels in Sindelfingen. After two years’ construction, in the spring of 2011, the developers were ready to start working with the state-of-the-art installation, in which new cars are tested in extreme weather conditions prior to their market launch.
Not being dependent on local weather conditions is a huge benefit. Even in the regions of the world with extreme climates, one cannot always rely on the weather, not even bad weather.
But in the climate tunnels conditions are always identical: the masters of the weather can set countless parameters on their monitors - from the size of the raindrops through to the humidity of the air, and right through to the temperature of the track surface. In six so-called conditioning chambers, which resemble giant refrigerators, the vehicles wait to make their entrance. This is where prototypes are prepared for the tests and for the right starting temperatures.
Apart from the heating and air conditioning systems, a huge range of very different components can be tested in this artificial weather cauldron - from the windscreen wipers through to the brakes. The climate tunnels provide an important bridge between the virtual testing of a new model on the computer and real test drives. Test-driving the vehicles in real road conditions will continue to be essential, but the number of test miles required is reduced. And that’s a good thing for the real climate, too.
Text: Michael Lux
Illustration: Gulliver Theis