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New Volkswagen Chattanooga lab to test EV batteries under harshest conditions

CHATTANOOGA — A $22 million laboratory that Volkswagen of America has opened here as part of its massive assembly complex seeks to speed up extreme testing of battery packs for its upcoming line of locally produced electric vehicles.

The 32,000-square-foot facility is one of four such testing centers globally for VW’s German parent, which is transitioning to an all-EV lineup over the next decade, along with one in Braunschweig, Germany, and two in China. VW Chattanooga is expected to begin salable production of ID4 electric compact crossovers next month, which VW of America CEO Scott Keogh said should exponentially increase availability of the vehicle at U.S. dealerships this year.

The Battery Engineering Lab here, which will employ about 30 engineers, includes a climate chamber to test EVs in extreme heat and cold as well as a “shaker table” capable of simulating a year’s worth of on-road jostling and abuse in a week’s time. It also allows for thermal-shock testing, in which battery packs are exposed to extreme heat and cold events, to assess durability, as well as water-immersion and abrasion testing to simulate harsh environments.

The lab will initially study and validate the lithium ion battery packs being used to power the locally produced ID4s and other EVs built on VW’s global electric architecture, known as MEB, the automaker said. Other emerging battery technologies will be tested and validated for automotive use in the future.

“With our new Battery Engineering Lab as the new center for battery know-how, we can react quickly to the fast-paced EV market by applying data to our local engineering and assembly,” Wolfgang Demmelbauer-Ebner, VW of America’s chief engineering officer, said in a written statement.

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