Case Volvo Cars


It is no news to Volvo Cars that the climate of a car is an essential factor in comfort and safety; they are, after all, experts in the changeable Scandinavian climate. However, technical developments within the automotive industry bring new requirements and demands – especially when it comes to the climate systems of the future.

The climate systems of cars have several important functions: they remove moisture from the vehicle, ensure that the temperature remains even and comfortable, and clean the air in the passenger compartment. The car’s climate affects both the driver’s ability to operate the vehicle and the condition of the car itself.

Future technologies place further demands on climate system solutions – something that Volvo Cars has acknowledged, obviously without compromising quality in other ways.

“New technology is developing rapidly within the automotive industry and at Volvo Car Corporation. The general trend is increasingly towards electric and hybrid cars, which places both new and increased demands on the climate systems of vehicles,” says Peter Berntsson, Project Manager at Volvo Car Corporation.

“There is also a trend towards reduced energy consumption. The climate system is responsible for a significant proportion of a car’s total consumption, which means there is a lot to be gained from smart energy solutions,” says Yanick Meunier, Director South & West at Etteplan.

Co-operation based on unique competence

Etteplan and Volvo Cars have a long-standing partnership in the field of climate systems.
It all began with a company called Cool Engineering, with a business based on assisting Volvo with testing new refrigerants in the 1980s, when certain freons were phased out in favor of more environmentally friendly options. The company was acquired by Etteplan in 2008, where it remains to this day.

“With our shared history we are able to offer unique specialist expertise in climate solutions and tests for the automotive industry. We have built up a close relationship with Volvo Cars in our in-house laboratory and test center on the ground floor of the Gothenburg offices,” Meunier says.

Putting together the pieces

In January 2013, Etteplan was commissioned to carry out ACTRaaS – Air Condition Test Rig as a Service, which entails the construction and operation of a test facility for Volvo Cars and providing testing services in the facility.

Volvo Cars’ decision to build a new test facility was based on future technical challenges and a need to achieve a clearer overall view of climate systems.

“Earlier we tested components and subsystems for climate systems with several different subcontractors. It was difficult to find a partner who could take responsibility for the whole process and it also made it hard for us to see the big picture. A gap formed between the various components and the complete system,” says Peter Berntsson.

From the very beginning, Volvo Cars had plans to invest in its own test rig but the company has many other areas that require investments. This is why ACTRaaS is a welcome solution. And what better location for the facility than a place that already has the competence, resources and equipment – Etteplan’s offices in Gothenburg.

Contract with potential

Etteplan and Volvo Cars have signed a contract that involves Volvo Cars carrying out its climate technology tests at Etteplan’s specially constructed facilities over the course of five years. Etteplan will contribute its specialist expertise and will be responsible for the proper functioning of the facilities.

On 1 December, Volvo Cars will move into the 100 square meter facilities that enable the testing of complete climate systems. The five chambers of the facility expose the system to various environments, such as heat, cold and moisture. The facility also enables tests aimed at increased energy efficiency.

The testing is very much guided by the development of technology – new technology in cars places new demands on climate systems. Batteries will be a key focal area in the future. The development trend is towards the same technology being used for both heat and cold just as in heat pumps.

“The development taking place at the moment is aimed at new types of engines and alternative fuels and is just in its infancy. The new facility will help to discover different possibilities for developing new technology to meet future demands, and will provide us with a deeper understanding of the more complex solutions,” says Peter Berntsson.

The new test facility will also bring Etteplan benefits. It will make it possible to conduct new types of tests for new products, provide new services and attract new clients from new markets. These might include, for example, heat pumps, construction equipment and elevators.

“Etteplan is already the market leader in climate systems. The test facility and the expertise, support, engineering, development, testing and other services that we provide enable us to offer everything from start to finish. The new facility strengthens our position as one of the few suppliers of complete solutions,” says Yanick Meunier.

HVAC test facility

Etteplan’s latest test facility, located in Gothenburg, Sweden, became operational in December 2013. It will provide independent test results and analysis with short lead times between test set-ups. Volvo Cars has already signed a 5-year contract and will use the facility for testing and verification of its future climate systems. The facility will be available for all Etteplan customers.

> Testing of all HVAC features if a vehicle
> Conditions for full range component testing
> System testing with preserved geometry
> Time efficient testing which can reduce needed testing time by half
> Acclimatized test chamber with conditioned air and glycol loops
> More than just HVAC testing: heat pumps, battery cooling, heat exchangers

Original text in Swedish by Karolina Nordwall