Honda just spent $124 million dollars to build a new wind tunnel testing facility in East Liberty, Ohio. You would think that after a century’s plus worth of research and design, the auto industry would know everything it needed to know about cars and how they slice through air!
As with most innovation in the industry these days, the reason for the new wind tunnel stems from the development of electric cars. In the electric era, car designers need to work on reducing aerodynamic drag so that battery powered vehicles can go further on a charge. They also need to reduce vehicle and road noise; with no engine or exhaust to mask noise, electric vehicles need to be quieter than ICE vehicles.
The new wind tunnel is an eight of a mile long. Wind speeds of up to 190 mph can be generated. During testing, vehicles sit on a turntable on top of belt(s) which create a rolling road underneath. The max speed of the belts is 193 mph! The tunnel has 500 external and 54 internal microphones to measure acoustics by detecting and pinpointing the exact location of noise.
As Honda works on transforming their vehicle line-up from ICE to electric, the wind tunnel is one step in helping them get electric products to market even faster.