Pictured: David Richards, Chairman of Prodrive and Adrian Lockwood, Oxfordshire Skills Board Chair.
Yesterday (Tuesday 19 November) saw Prodrive open its new advanced Powertrain Development Centre (PDC), reaffirming its commitment to help the automotive and motorsport industry develop solutions for its biggest challenges.
The creation of the PDC has been supported by OxLEP (Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership) via the government’s Local Growth Fund. The official backing recognises the relationship that Prodrive has established with the local community, being one of the region’s largest and most high-profile employers. The launch of the PDC supports 25 jobs in the area.
OxLEP secured £500,000 of funding for the project via the government’s Local Growth Fund – the overall cost of the project is £2.3m.
Located at the Banbury headquarters of the world leading motorsport and advanced technology business, the purpose-built facility represents a multi-million investment and was constructed over a period of six months.
Its installation reinforces Prodrive’s ability to develop the next generation of electric, hybrid and internal combustion engines for road and competition applications, while also strengthening the expertise and services that it offers existing motorsport and technology clients.
Core to the new Powertrain Development Centre is a 660 kW transient dyno, one of the most powerful of its kind in the UK, which with temperature, humidity and transient pressure-controlled induction air can replicate most running conditions, while also providing powerful cooling solutions for IC engines and electric vehicle (EV) components including batteries and motors. The ability to simulate near exact running conditions and replicate in vehicle transient operating cycles means the dyno is particularly suited to powertrain calibration, durability testing and performance development.
Able to handle engine outputs of up to 880hp, the dyno is located on an easily-adjustable, modular grid system. This ensures that Prodrive can efficiently tailor it to the layout of any powertrain including the ability to test a full four-wheel drive electric/hybrid drivetrain.
Complementing the transient dyno cell is a dedicated engine build shop which can accommodate the assembly of up to 12 units. This capability, coupled with the PDC being adjacent to the main workshop, enhances Prodrive’s ability to build complete vehicles and cater for niche OEM projects requiring circa 200-300 units in short timeframes.
Should demand dictate, there is scope to double the size of the PDC. Prodrive has future-proofed the facility with the potential to add another identical test cell and engine build room, all without extending the existing building.
David Richards, chairman of Prodrive, said: “The PDC marks a massive step forward in terms of our engine development capability and complements our existing skills in the design and development of all types of powertrain. The high specification of our new dyno means we are in an even stronger position to develop and calibrate e power train units, allowing our customers to enjoy potential savings in terms of cost and time in comparison to physical testing on the road or track.
“It’s one of the biggest investments that Prodrive has ever made, but with our motorsport operations continuing to grow at a pace and increasing enquiries for the development of complex electric vehicle and hybrid technology, now is the time for us to introduce our Powertrain Development Centre.”
Nigel Tipple, chief executive of OxLEP, said: “The completion of such a significant project – that will have a positive impact on Prodrive – is excellent news.
“We are delighted to have secured such a major Local Growth Fund allocation for this project and we are sure it can be a real asset to Oxfordshire, as we continue to support our growing economy for the benefit of both the county and ‘UK PLC’.”