FEV has been placing its trust in Saxony-Anhalt since 2007
The eDLP, the world’s largest development and test center for high-voltage batteries for passenger cars and commercial vehicles, is due to enter operation at the end of September 2020. This is yet another milestone reached by FEV, the world’s leading independent service provider in vehicle and drive development. The center also represents another chapter in the success story of FEV’s presence in the business location of Saxony-Anhalt – a story that began in 2007 with a groundbreaking ceremony for a continuous testing center for conventional, electric and hybrid drives.
There is no denying the importance of the developments in Sandersdorf-Brehna, which were making headlines long before the official commissioning. The modern complex located between the three cities of Halle (Saale), Dessau and Leipzig is a force to be reckoned with: it is home to 69 plants for the electrical testing of modules and complete high-voltage batteries. The 54 climate chambers alone are equipped with 30,000 kW of electric power. According to FEV, this means it has the largest independent battery testing facility in the world. “The eDLP allows us to offer our customers a unique development service for passenger cars and commercial vehicles from a single location,” says Prof. Stefan Pischinger, President and CEO of the FEV Group. “We can cover all common battery test methods used for guaranteeing lifespan, in environmental and transport tests and in crash safety for cells, modules and packs.” Another unique feature is a 350 kN shaker that can be used to carry out combined mechanical and electrical tests on batteries in ambient conditions ranging from -40°C to +100°C as well as charging and discharging under vibration stress. The entire plant includes facilities for validating all the environmental and mechanical tests, four bunkers, a fire hall and a disassembly and diagnosis workshop. There are also provisions to ensure test specimens can be disposed of or recycled in an environmentally sound way once they have completed their test cycle.
Expanding development expertise for new mobility
In building the eDLP, which has received over six million euros of funding from the state of Saxony-Anhalt, FEV is expanding the development expertise for future mobility in Sandersdorf-Brehna. The company already has seven electric power train test rigs and more than ten hybrid power train test rigs in its nearby continuous testing center (DLP). The battery development center has created more than 100 new jobs and FEV now employs a total of 350 people in Saxony-Anhalt, making it one of the state’s most significant employers. This successful track record has not come about by chance. “Brehna and the surrounding area provided us with excellent conditions right from the start, and that’s why we are investing strategically,” explains Hans-Dieter Sonntag, Managing Director of FEV eDLP GmbH.
The benefits of all-round efficiency
The foundations for this successful track record were laid in Saxony-Anhalt in 2007. The FEV Dauerlaufprüfzentrum GmbH’s DLP (FEV DLP) was founded in Sandersdorf-Brehna with the aim of offering highly-efficient solutions for the continuous testing of vehicle drives. The FEV Group company started out with 80 employees and steadily expanded its portfolio, technology, research and workforce. It now plays a key role in its specialized field of new mobility, collaborates with institutions and research facilities and is committed to knowledge transfer. Every step of the way it looks to Saxony-Anhalt as its location of choice. “We have always benefited from the area’s efficiency both in terms of geographical location and decision-making processes,” maintains Dr. Christoph Szasz, who is also Managing Director of FEV eDLP GmbH. Since 2006, the company has had the support of the Investment and Marketing Corporation Saxony-Anhalt, the state’s economic development agency. The IMG has provided active assistance with everything from selecting international business locations and managing relations with local authorities to expanding the company’s connections to science, research, clusters and associations.
“We have strong ties to the region and want to strengthen its research and development,” says Sonntag. One example of this is the FEV’s involvement in the cluster MAHREG Automotive, a network that brings together the services of local automotive suppliers and promotes development partnerships in order to increase added value. “We always try to be several steps ahead – that’s the only way to ensure we are ready for whatever the future brings. It’s harder to remain in pole position than it is to reach it,” says Sonntag. “We could develop the area into a center of innovation for green energy,” says Szasz. The new test center is a demonstration of how FEV is putting its approach into practice. “We are using a wide variety of technologies to enable truly sustainable operation,” explains Sonntag. “Our testing facilities are supplied almost exclusively with renewable energy, and we even produce electricity using the photovoltaic panels on the roof.”
Green energy and new mobility in the spotlight
Sonntag emphasizes that the possibilities for green energy at their location in Saxony-Anhalt were important factors in their decision to continue investing in the region. “We encountered the same phenomenon from the outset in relation to new mobility. We believe new mobility is the key to social development and progress. The signs in Central Germany are clearly pointing towards change. That was another reason at the time for us to invest in this area and to drive expansion.” FEV was to experience its next success in 2008, just one year after founding the FEV DLP, when it put 31 engine/motor and power train test rigs into operation, laying the foundations for its continuous testing center. In 2010, the FEV Group launched FEV Automatisierungssysteme GmbH (FEV AS) with the aim of advancing development methodology for power trains. One year later, FEV DLP was experiencing so much demand that it built more engine/motor test rigs, adapted all of its engine/motor and power train test rigs to suit future developments and fitted them with high-voltage technology and related battery simulation. FEV Dauerlaufprüfzentrum GmbH, a subsidiary of the globally active FEV Group, gained an innovative edge with its efficient continuous drive testing. “We could simulate everything from an arctic cold start to a desert climate, which made us a very promising bet for engine, motor and drive manufacturers around the world who wanted to test their drive systems at our facilities,” says Sonntag. “We have had an international focus right from the start. We grew steadily, invested regularly, expanded capacity and created new jobs.”
Growing demand for electrified power trains
Alongside this, the company expanded its development department and worked closely with the Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg and other Central German universities. The continuous testing center in Brehna grew, and seven new electric test rigs were added in 2018. “This fourth expansion project since we opened our facilities enabled us to meet the increasing demand for electrified power trains,” explains Sonntag. In that same year, FEV Software and Testing Solutions GmbH was founded in Landsberg, which saw the merger of FEV business units. As a globally active company, FEV now offers state-of-the-art test fields, measuring, conditioning and control devices, and software solutions that make development processes more efficient and transfer process steps from the road to the test rig. As part of its growth in Saxony-Anhalt, FEV has initiated and supported the creation of a Center for Method Development (CMD) in Barleben, near Magdeburg. Together with the Guericke University Magdeburg, the automotive-orientated research and development center plans to explore and implement methods for shortening the development of vehicle drives. Prof. Pischinger believes that the opening of the eDLP has cemented the company’s position as a full-service provider for e-mobility development and shows that it is one step ahead in anticipating growing future demand for testing capacity. “We are able to adapt flexibly and scale up our services in response to new testing requirements and development strategies,” says Sonntag.