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Turbine in the Wind Tunnel Efficiency Centre
Sustainability

A great deal of bluster about the future

Sustainability

A great deal of bluster about the future

Words by Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft
Photography by Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft

Optimal aerodynamics are the key to more efficiency and comfort – and are a prerequisite for future-oriented design. The Wind Tunnel Efficiency Centre (Windkanal-Effizienz-Zentrum – WEZ) in Wolfsburg is one of the most advanced of its kind in the world. Vehicle tests are conducted here that produce much more than just bluster.

Words by Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft
Photography by Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft

Optimal aerodynamics are the key to more efficiency and comfort – and are a prerequisite for future-oriented design. The Wind Tunnel Efficiency Centre (Windkanal-Effizienz-Zentrum – WEZ) in Wolfsburg is one of the most advanced of its kind in the world. Vehicle tests are conducted here that produce much more than just bluster.

Wolfsburg. A huge tube at the end of which there is an imposing oversized turbine with metre-high rotor blades. Whenever this starts moving in the Wind Tunnel Efficiency Centre, a high-tech storm is unleashed. Vehicles can then be tested in wind speeds of up to 250 kilometres per hour under real conditions.

 

Aerodynamics and electric mobility

Behind these tests in the wind tunnel is an important and fascinating catalyst in the development of future vehicles: aerodynamics. Volkswagen will begin production of the ID. series this year – aerodynamics play a special role in the field of electric mobility in particular: they have a decisive impact on the range. The product portfolio is however not just being expanded with new electric models, but also with the T-Cross in the volume segment. Development teams in the WEZ are therefore working on more than 50 vehicle projects in order to reduce the consumption rates of the growing model range, among other things.

Facts about the Wind Tunnel Efficiency Centre

Plenty of calm in the wind tunnel

In the Aerodynamics Acoustics Tunnel, the so-called “conveyor belt scales” in particular ensure that real vehicle operations can be simulated. In the process, each wheel stands on its own conveyor belt. The scales with built-in camera system automatically adapt each model for the test in less than five minutes. Previously, around 30 minutes were needed for this. The tunnel’s acoustic insulation makes it one of the quietest automotive wind tunnels in the world. At 160 km/h wind speeds, it reaches a sound pressure level of only 65 decibels, similar to a television at normal volume.

 

Even more expertise in the WEZ

But it isn’t just wind being generated for the development of better vehicles across 8,800 square metres. Driving simulations for all globally occurring climatic and environmental conditions between minus 30 and plus 60 degrees Celsius are possible there. In the Thermofunction Tunnel, every conceivable weather condition on earth can be simulated: sun, rain, snow – even rainforest conditions with humidity of 95 per cent can be generated. This facilitates significantly more testing under real conditions.

Ice age in the thermal function channel
Here, an ice age can be triggered at the touch of a button – in the so-called cold-country simulation in the Thermofunction Tunnel, an especially chilly wind lashes the Golf such that the body completely ices up. Golf R fuel consumption in l/100 km: urban: 8.2–8.0 / extra-urban: 6.6–6.4 / combined: 7.2–7.0; CO₂ emissions, combined, in g/km: 164–158; efficiency class D.

Development centre in Wolfsburg

Volkswagen focuses entirely on development at the Wolfsburg location. Here, more than 10,000 employees work on the technology of the future. The Wind Tunnel Efficiency Centre is a further component for generating key impetus in vehicle development in the future, too. 

With the new WEZ, Volkswagen is considerably reducing the effort required for testing. Vehicles no longer have to be transported to distant countries and regions, which contributes to a positive CO2 balance. In addition, the cooperative distances between development areas such as vehicle safety, design, acoustics and comfort are noticeably shortened – thanks also to a central workshop area. The expertise is pooled, making the work concerning the development of vehicles of the future even more effective.

Vehicles in the Wind Tunnel Efficiency Centre in Wolfsburg
Vehicles in the Wind Tunnel Efficiency Centre in Wolfsburg
The latest measuring technology, conveyor belt scales and a central workshop area – with the Wind Tunnel Efficiency Centre, the ultimate research centre has been developed in Wolfsburg with high environmental standards. It is part of the “Think Blue. Engineering” concept. 

/ May 2019