Can your car withstand the freezing temperatures of Denali, Alaska, or the baking heat of Death Valley, California, or the cruel humidity of the Gulf Coast?
Aside from a long, potentially miserable road trip, there’s only one way to find out: ask the engineers at GM’s vehicle development and validation testing to torture your car in the Climatic Wind Tunnel at the Tech Center in Warren, and see how it holds up in the 150-mph winds and 40- belowzero temperature, then the 140-degree heat and 1,155-watt simulated sunshine.
“Testing in the Climatic Wind Tunnel reduces the need to travel to remote locations, which helps save time and money,” said Ben Cruz, GM engineering group manager for thermal testing at the Climatic Wind Tunnel.
That fortunately makes the miserable road trip obsolete, then, so Cruz and his team decided to use their wind tunnel to put the all-new 2013 Chevy Malibu Turbo to the test.
First, the engineers conjured up a blizzard to test the Malibu’s air induction system, designed to keep ice and snow from clogging the vehicle’s air cleaning system.
Next, they tested the Malibu’s cabin air conditioning system against the tunnel’s simulated Gulf Coast heat and humidity. Finally, the engineers scrutinized the powertrain cooling system, for what good is turbo if it can’t handle the heat?
So they decided to bring on Death Valley-like extreme hot daytime and cold nighttime temperatures.
In all three atmospheres, the Malibu Turbo performed nicely, which was probably a relief to Cruz’s team of engineers; surely none of them wanted to pursue the backup real-world road trip. Also delighted with the Malibu Turbo’s climatic wind tunnel performance was Jeremy Loveday, the vehicle’s program engineering manager. He’s most concerned with passenger comfort and convenience.
In a press release, Loveday explained how the wind tunnel testing helped, saying, “The new Malibu turbo was designed with the things that matter to our customers in mind, like starting on cold mornings and not overheating on hot summer days.”
The wind tunnel also simulates driving actual roads with real-world weight burdens, such as hauling a fully loaded trailer up a steep incline by applying resistance through the wheels of the tunnel’s dynamometer, a tool that also allows simulated driving speeds of up to 155 mph.
Content provided coutesy of Detroit Auto Scene. For more automotive new visit detroitautoscene.com.