Sustainable and Safe Drive Technologies
At the start of 2023, the EU became the first region to decide that, from 2035, the only vehicles with combustion engines it will still approve will be those that run only on carbon-neutral synthetic fuels (e-fuels). The future will be reserved for sustainable drive technologies, and DEKRA is helping to shape the safety and security of this future.
The demand for testing services for high-performance battery modules and packs has increased sharply and is set to continue growing. DEKRA is therefore setting up a test center for automotive and stationary battery systems at its Technology Center at the Lausitzring in Klettwitz, Brandenburg. Following millions of euros of investment, it is set to commence operations at the end of 2024.
The new test center will combine all types of battery tests under one roof. As well as mechanical inspections, these tests will include performance, environmental, and misuse tests. All of the services will be offered alongside the development process and also as part of homologation, certification, quality assurance, and market surveillance.
The increasing demand for battery testing is directly linked to the upcoming ban on the sale of new combustion engine vehicles from 2035, and to the strategy adopted by many manufacturers to convert their models to electric drives before this date.
DEKRA took over the Lausitzring on November 1, 2017. Since then, it has transformed the site from a racetrack with a test center into a test center with racetrack. Today, in combination with the neighboring DEKRA Technology Center, which opened in 2003, the site forms Europe’s largest manufacturer-independent testing center for tomorrow’s automated and connected mobility.
Expert profile: mechanics, technicians, engineers
Critical to the success of e-mobility is the ability to charge a vehicle at any charging station without any problems. Commissioned by the California Energy Commission, DEKRA set up the Vehicle-Grid Innovation Lab (ViGIL), which offers testing and certification services with respect to the interoperability of charging technologies. The tests are necessary for enabling access to national and state-level subsidies.
DEKRA has introduced a new Open Area Test Site at its site in Arnhem, Netherlands, for measuring electromagnetic compatibility (EMC). This allows vehicles that are too large for converted EMC chambers to be tested; for example, electric buses and e-trucks.
Since summer 2022, the new test bench for electric motors and electric drive axles has been in operation at the Technology Center in Klettwitz. The powertrain and exhaust emissions laboratory there has been designed to test battery and hydrogen-powered vehicles.
Head of DEKRA Technology Center, Klettwitz (Brandenburg)
Erik Pellmann has been the specialist division head in charge of the DEKRA Technology Center at the Klettwitz site in Brandenburg since January 1, 2023. Before that, he was Head of Powertrain and Exhaust Emissions there. With a degree in automotive engineering, the official expert for commercial vehicles and qualified vehicle mechanic began his career at DEKRA in 2007, as a specialist in powertrain and exhaust emissions at the DEKRA Technology Center.
For e-mobility, we need a different set of competencies than those required for combustion engines. That is why, among other things, we are systematically restructuring our powertrain and exhaust emissions laboratory so that our services cater for the new drive types. The new test bench for electric motors and e-axles is another important element in this respect.
We have designed our roller testing systems to test the range of electric vehicles and hydrogen consumption in fuel cell vehicles, in addition to the usual fuel consumption and emissions in combustion engine vehicles. At the Klettwitz site there will also soon be a test center for drive batteries. Here we have a state-of-the-art competence center for e-mobility, among other things, which enables us to support DEKRA’s core automotive business around the world.
We are working hard on developing standards and test methods so that any potential risks associated with this new technology are considered and addressed in future general inspections. DEKRA is involved by way of its own research projects and is contributing its expertise and resources to these developments via its participation in the respective committees. In the end, it will be the regulators – at an increasingly international level – who will decide on the design of these inspections. However, DEKRA is determined to play an important role here.
With its expertise in e-mobility DEKRA supports companies like Volta Trucks in the transition to zero-tailpipe-emission transportation. Volta Trucks was founded in 2019 and, in early 2023, announced the first production orders of over 300 units for its all-electric Volta Zero, specifically designed for last-mile urban distribution.
In 2022, DEKRA tested the Volta Zero at its laboratories in Klettwitz, Germany, and Arnhem, Netherlands. Both labs are experts in their fields: Arnhem focuses on e-mobility and charging infrastructure testing, whereas Klettwitz sets its focus on safety testing as well as connected and automated driving.
In Arnhem, the charging performance tests of the trucks were performed in conjunction with testing the battery management system by charging the vehicle at extreme temperatures from -20 degrees Celsius up to 40 degrees Celsius. For interoperability testing, different test scenarios were applied to monitor truck behavior during the charging process. In Klettwitz, the tests focused on validating the electrical design system of the Volta Zero. Among other things, DEKRA’s experts tested the wiring system with regards to the cable cross-sections, the fuse concept, the interfaces/plug connections, and the design of the ground points. For this purpose, the individual strands to each consumer were loaded with current and voltage up to the limits. The tests were carried out on the entire vehicle and on a separate complete cable harness. Furthermore, passive safety tests were conducted to protect the driver in the event of an accident.
“We chose to partner with DEKRA because of the state-of-the-art equipment at the facilities and the very skilled engineers that are supporting us,” says Georgios Krikis, High Voltage Battery Engineer at Volta Trucks.
Based on its claim “designed for electric, designed for safety”, Volta Trucks’ vision is to be the leader in zero-tailpipe-emission transport, reducing the effects of global warming and making our cities safer, healthier, and more pleasant for everyone. As a global partner for a safe, secure, and sustainable world, DEKRA is proud to support this mission.
On the basis of its expertise, DEKRA is in an excellent position to develop solutions for safe, secure, and sustainable mobility. The current focus is on battery and hydrogen-based drive technologies as well as safe and secure networked and automated driving. For this purpose, DEKRA has set up a global laboratory network with locations in China, America, and Europe. The labs in Europe comprise the three outstanding sites at Arnhem, Netherlands, Málaga, Spain, and Klettwitz, Germany, which is home to the DEKRA Technology Center and Europe’s largest independent test center for networked and automated driving. DEKRA is continuing to invest heavily in future mobility at all sites. The Klettwitz site with the Lausitzring has a particularly important function on this journey into the future.