General Motors has added a $30 million wind tunnel testing facility at its Technical Center in Warren that allows the automaker to accelerate and verify fuel-savings earlier in the development cycle of cars and trucks.
“The combined capabilities of our new reduced-scale and full-scale wind tunnels allow us to reach industry-leading levels of aerodynamic refinement,” says Ken Morris, vice president of global product integrity at GM. “We view the new $30 million reduced scale wind tunnel as an investment towards a better, more energy-efficient future.”
Morris says the 35,000-square-foot wind tunnel aerodynamically tests clay models up to 40 percent of the scale of a vehicle. The tunnel is equipped with a conveyor-style rolling road system that simulates real-world highway driving conditions up to a top speed of 155 miles per hour. He says testing reduced-sized vehicles on a simulated road allows engineers to reduce wind drag in a full-size vehicle design.
Morris says 3-D printing machines create underbodies and engine blocks that are detailed and to scale for the reduced sized clay models. Working suspensions with spinning wheels allow GM engineers to better examine how airflow affects a vehicle’s underbody while in motion, resulting in quieter cars and trucks.
The new test facility is located next to GM’s full-scale wind tunnel that has been in operation since 1980. The original full-scale wind tunnel will be upgraded next year with its own full-scale rolling road system, among other improvements.â€‹