While outside temperatures sit in the mid 80s (30 degrees Celsius), inside a special part of Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s technical center at its US headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan, there are blizzard-like weather conditions.
That’s because Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has decided that taking the vehicles to wintry nations is not as easy as recreating those conditions at home, where it has setup a new extreme weather test cell that can hit its vehicles with rain, snow, 100 mph+ winds and temperatures that can drop to minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit. During a press test a 450-horsepower blower was submitting a 2015 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk 4×4 to snow and temperatures as low as 5 degrees Fahrenheit while wind speeds soared to 25 miles per hour. The testing lab has been upgraded earlier this year through a $2.5 million investment that included 4×4 dynamometer rollers so the automaker can test its best-selling all-wheel drive models at up to 125 mph. “Our world-class environmental test center provides dynamic and static testing conditions to simulate the climatic environments that are experienced by our customers around the world,” commented John Nigro, vice president, product development of FCA North America.
Vehicles can have replicated conditions of temperatures ranging from minus 40 degrees to 130 degrees and winds of up to 100 miles per hour, all while the vehicle travels at 125 mph. Engineers can assess things such as exterior material durability in extreme cold or heat, or how the fuels cope with different weather conditions. In the portrayed test, the engineers were studying whether the air intakes would get clogged with snow in a blizzard, forcing an engine shut down.