Largest winter test location
Boschs facility in Yakeshi is the companys largest winter test site. About 40 Bosch engineers will work here during the winter season, which runs from November through April.
The facility has an expansive network of icy runs, test tracks, hills, snow-packed roads and even a frozen lake. The local government is in talks with six domestic suppliers and automakers to develop their own winter test tracks here, said Ba Shu Huan, party committee secretary of Yakeshi. Among them are domestic automaker Chery Automobile and the China Automotive Technology & Research Center (CATARC), Ba said.
There is no construction date. But the contractor that built Boschs facility, the Swedish firm ATM (Hulunbeier) Automotive Winter Test Co., is working on test courses with more basic facilities to meet the needs of domestic players, says ATM Managing Director Lars Holmgren.
Boschs facility will enhance testing of locally produced active safety technologies such as the electronic stability control, which helps control skidding. Bosch began making ESC systems in China in 2005. But the ESC installation rate in Chinas auto market is currently a mere 7 percent.
Still, Bosch says the success of its antilock brake systems in China shows there is big potential for active safety devices here.
Bosch started local ABS production in 2003, and it now has an installation rate of 67 percent with Chinese automakers.
Our test track is Bosch owned. We dont plan to share it with anyone, Chen Liming, director of engineering at Bosch Chassis Systems Control China, said in an interview with Automotive News China in a Mongolian yurt situated at the test track to shelter visitors from the freezing cold.
The track still isnt finished. Phase 2 will be completed in 2010 and include a chess board area where squares alternate between ice and asphalt.
Seeking a summer site
A summer test site in China is also possible for Bosch. Rudi Ott, vice president of Chassis Systems Control at Boschs proving ground in Boxberg, Germany, has been scouting locations for one.
While the global economic crisis is hitting all corners of the globe, Bosch remains optimistic about the auto industrys future in China – and the need to strengthen testing to meet local conditions.
Its a dedicated test site for Chinese-dedicated projects, says Werner Struth, president of Chassis Systems Control at Bosch. We firmly believe in a bright future for the Chinese economy and the Chinese car industry.