DETROIT — FEV Inc. is beefing up its hybrid development and testing capabilities to include transmissions. The goal is to support automakers' work on alternative powertrains that will meet stiffer fuel-economy rules.
The U.S. unit of the Aachen, Germany, engineering and testing company also can emulate battery performance when electric motors are used in hybrid vehicle transmissions.
"Clearly, if fuel economy is the driver, from a systems view, conventional automatic transmissions will be a major share of the changes" to boost fuel economy, said Jochem Wolschendorf, FEV's chief technical officer, during a tour last fall of FEV's testing operations in suburban Detroit.
Other engineering companies also are expanding to meet demand from automakers that face tougher fuel-economy mandates.
This month, for example, Ricardo Inc. opened a $2 million battery lab in suburban Detroit that it plans to use to test advanced batteries and battery packs for hybrids.
Last year FEV spent $3 million on two test cells and related equipment for transmissions. Previously, the company had specialized in testing and development of internal combustion engines.
With the addition of more testing equipment at the suburban Detroit operations, FEV engineers can benchmark hybrid drivetrains, develop controls, calibrate the engine and electric motor and electronics, validate designs and integrate hybrid powertrains into vehicles.
Gary Rogers, FEV's CEO, said fuel economy gains will come from making the entire driveline — engine, transmission or transaxle and differential — more efficient.
The company can help automakers with regular front- and rear-wheel drive automatic transmissions, plus newer dual-clutch transmissions.