Chevrolet vehicle validation in extreme conditions
While the testing facilities at General Motors’ multiple proving grounds around the world are well spread, getting a test vehicle out into the real world is just as important as navigating simulated challenges.
When testing for the effects of cold weather on the fuel economy of the Cruze Turbo Diesel, energy and powertrain integration engineer Tessa Baughman booked a room at Hôtel de Glace, an ice hotel outside of Quebec City, apart from a testing regime at GM’s Kapuskasing cold weather testing facility. Along the way, she experienced whiteout conditions, large snow drifts and frigid Canadian January weather – all before sleeping on a block of ice.
Nothing Baughman put the Cruze Diesel through seemed to phase the car, whether cold weather or snowy roads. “The trip gave me the chance to see what it’s like to drive a Cruze Diesel in everyday cold weather situations,” said Baughman. “It’s hard to replicate in a controlled testing environment.”
Then there was Tahoe and Suburban ride-and-handling engineer Greg Stamm. To assure the full-size SUV’s suspension could handle more than just potholed pavement, Stamm took a 2015 Tahoe test vehicle to McPherson Pass outside Yuma, Ariz. McPherson is 16-18 miles of two-track off-roading intended for specialty vehicles and includes a ramp made of piled stones that must be scaled to complete the course.
Stamm took the course at speed once, then repeated it two more times. The Tahoe’s independent coil-over-shock with twin-tube shock absorbers in the front and axle with five-link location and coil springs in the rear proved its ability to perform the task. “While our proving grounds have off-road sections, they’re not as rugged as true two-track trails,” said Stamm. “Running the trucks on a course with real off-road conditions allowed me to test to the extreme conditions I wanted to make sure the trucks could handle.”