Volkswagen of America has marked the start of construction of its Battery Engineering Lab at its Chattanooga Engineering and Planning Center.
The approximately $22 million facility will test and validate electric vehicle cells and battery packs for the North American region.
The new lab will join Volkswagen Chattanooga’s under-construction 564,000 square-foot electric vehicle production expansion and 198,000 square-foot battery pack assembly facility to form Volkswagen’s hub for EV production and engineering here in the region.
Volkswagen will test and optimize Georgia-manufactured battery cells at the new lab. This testing will include batteries for the Volkswagen ID.4 all-electric SUV, scheduled to begin U.S. production in 2022.
Besides increasing its engineering capabilities in the region, the engineering lab is also part of Volkswagen’s effort to localize all aspects of vehicle development and production.
Battery testing and validation takes place now in two labs in Germany (Braunschweig and Wolfsburg) and two in China (Shanghai and Changchun). Testing and validating battery components in Chattanooga will allow engineers to more quickly apply lessons learned to local production, says Dr. Wolfgang Demmelbauer-Ebner, chief engineering officer of Volkswagen of America.
“Testing batteries at this lab will help us get vehicles to market faster and at a lower cost,” Demmelbauer-Ebner adds. “It will also lets us ensure the safety and reliability of our batteries in conditions U.S. customers encounter every day.”
Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe says the expansion shows Tennessee is not only a leader in the automotive sector but is also “an outstanding place to conduct high-tech R&D.”
“This will be the first lab of its kind that VW will build in the U.S., and it means a great deal that they chose to build it in Tennessee,” Rolfe adds.
VW engineers will test battery components and the integration of the battery with the vehicle, as well as look for more ways to integrate locally produced components into the production process, VW says in a news release.
The lab will include pressure and immersion testers, corrosion chambers, five explosion-rated climate chambers and a custom, two-ton multiaxis shaker table, which is designed to test the integrity of vehicle components in some of the roughest conditions they might face on the road.
The facility will also feature regenerative load cyclers that can return energy to the building or grid.