September 2, 2014. Numerous developments in the area of vehicle safety are significantly influenced as a result of current NCAP or NHTSA regulations and then realized and implemented by manufacturers and their suppliers. The situation in China is similar, only several state authorities are responsible for testing and the development of new protocols. Between 2010 and 2013, the German company MESSRING planned, constructed, and installed a crash-test facility that sets new global standards for CAERI, the vehicle-testing institute located in Chongqing. CAERI was founded in 1965 and is responsible for all tests involving vehicle models (motorcycles, cars, buses, and trucks). A further business segment is the provision of its state-of-the-art crash-test facilities for domestic automobile manufacturers and suppliers like Changan.
Following an open tender for the gigantic crash-test facility and productive negotiations in February 2010, CAERI decided to commission the specialists from MESSRING with the realization of the project. The contract specifies “…the construction of a testing center in which virtually all globally recognized automobile certification tests can be performed, including the installation of all necessary system technologies and sensoring systems.” MESSRING, based in Krailling (close to Munich) had already planned and constructed more than 100 crash-test facilities throughout the world—including ten in China. As Dierk Arp, CEO at MESSRING, reported, “Our activities in China began at quite an early stage, and we were naturally particularly pleased that our bid for this gigantic facility was successful.”
Considering the dimensions of the construction work involved on its own, the project in Chongqing is unique. The building containing the crash-test facility has a gross floor space of 25,000 m2, the acceleration track for automobile tests has a length of 294 meters (200 m are roofed over and the rest is outdoors), and a second, variable-angle, oblique impact track was installed that allows any angle of incidence adjustments to the main acceleration track. This permits the simulation of a broad spectrum of collision scenarios involving two vehicles.
“As a public institute, it is our responsibility to improve vehicle and traffic safety in China and make driving safer for the people. The fact that we saw all our criteria fulfilled in terms of the planning and construction of the crash-test facility was instrumental in our decision to choose MESSRING,” said Xu Wei, deputy director for vehicle safety at CAERI.
The system at CAERI is powered by two electric propulsion systems, developed especially for use in crash tests. Together, the two electric motors have a combined power rating of 2.4 MW. This allows vehicles with overall weights of up to five tonnes to be accelerated to a speed of 120 km/h before they collide with the impact block. Even high-speed crashes with 25-tonne trucks and buses can be simulated with this system. Nevertheless, the complete facility must work with exceptional precision, despite the high velocities and extreme forces used in testing vehicles at Chongqing. The tolerance limits defined by CAERI during the approval and acceptance of the facility in May 2013 were correspondingly tight. The maximum permitted deviation in speed with the track system under full load was only ±0.15 km/h, and the precision with which two test vehicles collide in car-to-car tests had to be within a maximum tolerance bandwidth of ±1 centimeter.
In addition to the frontal and oblique impact systems mentioned earlier, MESSRING also supplied numerous testing components to complete the gigantic testing complex. These are of particular importance to permit the implementation of further, international, testing procedures, for instance from the United States and EU. CAERI relies not only on system technologies provided by MESSRING, but also on a comprehensive package of sensoring and data logging systems made in Germany for the precise documentation of crash tests.
Yue Zhong Yao, deputy director for vehicle safety at the Chongqing Automotive Engineering Research Institute, said “The collaboration with MESSRING proved to be extremely positive and was characterized by mutual respect. The product of our collaboration—the new testing center in Chongqing—represents a milestone for CAERI and the advancement of car safety throughout China.”