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Whatever the weather

After over four years of construction work, the Wind Tunnel Efficiency Center in Wolfsburg was opened at the beginning of this month. It enables vehicles to be tested under real conditions.

Sub-zero temperatures: Jörg Ackert and Katharina Brechler wear thick clothing to protect them from the cold in the thermal function tunnel.

Whether freezing cold, scorching heat, pouring rain, tropical humidity, or wind speeds of up to 250 km/h, the Wind Tunnel ­Efficiency Center (WEZ in German) at Wolfsburg will be able to generate any climate or weather conditions on the planet. “This wind tunnel center is one of the most modern and most efficient in the world,” said brand CEO Herbert Diess in early November at the official inauguration of the complex, which cost around €100 million.

It is the largest construction project in the history of Technical Development, with ­construction work taking over four years. In addition to two new wind tunnels, the WEZ also houses a pair of older wind tunnels, which have been in operation since 1965 and 1985 respectively, and will keep operating in the future.

In the wind tunnels,
vehicles can be tested under real road conditions. The objective of the developers is to reduce the cars’ aerodynamic drag. “Aerodynamics is a ­crucial control lever for more efficiency and fewer emissions,” said board member for Development Frank Welsch. Lower air resistance also plays an important role with respect to the range of electric cars.

Cold, hot, damp

-30 degrees

to + 60 degrees Celsius can be set in the new thermal function tunnel (TFK).

95%

humidity can be simulated in the TFK.

8 meters

is the diameter of the nozzle in the aerodynamic/aeroacoustic tunnel (AAK).

8800 m2

is the total surface area of the Wind Efficiency Tunnel Center.

According to brand CEO Diess, the brand’s development teams are currently working on more than 50 vehicle projects. ­“Volkswagen is one of the biggest car developers in the world – and one of the most successful,” said Diess (59). With the new WEZ, developers now have “a great tool” in their hands with which to further improve vehicles.

Even in the digital age, wind tunnels are just as indispensable as ever. For example, an air resistance value can be determined in around 20 minutes in a wind tunnel; a computer calculation, by contrast, would take several days.

Brand CEO Herbert Diess, works council member Gerardo Scarpino, and board member Frank Welsch cut the ribbon at the opening.