The Volvo Group has inaugurated a $ 33 million expansion of its powertrain research and development site in Hagerstown, Md., To build a new Vehicle Propulsion Laboratory (VPL). Volvo’s VPL will enable comprehensive testing of current and future products for Volvo Trucks, Mack Trucks, Prevost and Volvo Buses to meet evolving government regulations and ensure high performance on various North American roads.

Installed under one roof, the laboratory will include two environmental chambers: one chamber will have a dynamometer capable of measuring emissions and simulating extreme weather and altitude conditions. The second will offer testing of fully operational vehicles, including on-road and professional trucks, as well as coaches, to start in various weather conditions.

“The Hagerstown powertrain technology site plays an important role in the Volvo Group’s efforts to deliver advanced transportation solutions that meet customer needs today and in the future,” said Lars Stenqvist, director of Volvo Group technology. “The all-new VPL, scheduled to open in the second quarter of 2023, will allow us to develop and test solutions for electric and hydrogen fuel cells, as well as internal combustion engines, which will be powered by non-fossil fuels in the future, for our Class 8 trucks and coaches.

Additional testing features of the VPL will include:

  • Operation from -22 degrees F to 104 degrees F (-30 C to +40 C) for development and verification activities
  • Wind speed simulation up to 85 mph (137 km / h)
  • Absorption and motorization capacity of the vehicle up to 1600 horsepower (1200 kW)
  • Altitude simulation up to 14,000 feet (4,270 meters)
  • Different types of performance and emissions testing for electric battery, fuel cell, hybrid, natural gas and diesel technologies
  • Ability to test Class 8 on-road and professional trucks and coaches for North American, South American and European applications

“Our engineers currently rely on long-distance travel for extreme weather testing or use various third-party labs that specialize in specific types of testing,” said Audley Brown, vice president of powertrain engineering for Volvo Group North America. “The VPL will be one of the few locations in operation to offer vehicle emissions and on-board diagnostic requirements under all expected operating conditions for trucks, buses and powertrains. “

The company also expects the new lab to contribute to continuous improvement in product quality and go-to-market capabilities due to the strategic migration from road testing to controlled testing in the lab environment.

3D digital render of the Volvo Group’s new vehicle propulsion laboratory in Hagerstown, Maryland.Volvo Group

Upon final construction, the VPL will be over 35,000 square feet, rise to two floors, and be connected to the existing engine development lab on the Hagerstown campus. It has been 15 years since the current laboratory entered service, which involved an investment of $ 40 million at the time. Since then, the company has spent an additional $ 12 million to modernize the test cells, part of which was used to enable the creation of an electricity regeneration during the operation of the dynamometer tests.

The Volvo Group employs more than 250 people at the current location in the areas of engineering, purchasing, environment, health and safety, and the new VPL will add around 10 new jobs, including members non-union members and team members represented by the United Auto Workers union. The company’s Hagerstown campus is also home to the Volvo Group’s powertrain manufacturing plant, producing engines, transmissions and axles for Mack trucks, Volvo trucks, Prevost coaches and Volvo buses sold in America. North. Employing more than 1,700 team members, the company has invested more than $ 294 million since 2011 in the 1.5 million square foot manufacturing facility.

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