With a length of 20,8 kilometers, 73 curves (33 on the left and 40 on the right) and a drop of 300 meters, the famous Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit is the best to push the reliability and performance of a vehicle to the limit. For this reason, Hyundai opened its largest test center there in 2013, in a four-story building with 3.622 m2 of offices and workshops.
“The test center at the Nürburgring has increased our analytical capabilities, bringing direct benefits to our customers in terms of the quality and performance of the vehicles we produce. This center allows us to test the reliability and drivability of our vehicles quickly and accurately ”, assures Axel Honisch, general manager of the Hyundai Motor Europe technical center. “The Nürburgring is a unique challenge for any vehicle and the perfect place to test the durability of a car. We apply what we learn there in the development of all our vehicles ”.
“Our 10.000-kilometer test at the Nürburgring, at 95% of vehicle capacity, is equivalent to running between 150.000 and 180.000 kilometers on conventional roads,” explains Albert Biermann, Hyundai's Executive Vice President of Vehicle Testing and High-Performance Developments. .
The Nürburgring center serves as a test bed for the transmission and design departments and the evaluation division of the Hyundai Design and Engineering Center in Rüsselsheim. On the mythical German track the durability of all mechanical components is checked; and also the steering, suspension tuning, ride quality, dynamic behavior, gearbox ratios and the tuning of the engine and chassis electronics.
The flow of information is constant, between the Nürburgring and Rüsselsheim centers, and from both with Hyundai's R&D center in Namyang. "With an eight hour time difference between Germany and Korea, when we rest, they work, and evolution never stops," explains Biermann.
As the Nürburgring facility is located next to the track, engineers can make adjustments and modifications to the vehicles almost simultaneously with the tests being carried out by their drivers. The evaluation days are exhausting for engineers, pilots and vehicles. The normal work process usually begins with the assembly in several prototype units of the components and adjustments to be tested. The drivers test them on the track and, back in the center, they transmit their driving sensations to the engineers based on pre-set parameters.
Engineers also "listen" to the car, after downloading all the data collected by a multitude of sensors installed in various parts of the vehicle. It is about collecting the largest possible information capacity through a sophisticated data acquisition system, identical to those used in competition. Speeds, temperatures, efforts, accelerations ... everything is recorded.
All this information is sent to Rüsselsheim and Namyang, where it is analyzed in depth and is used to develop new components, adjustments and calibrations; which are mounted on a new unit and tested again on the track. The process does not stop until the objective is achieved.
All track tests are carried out by in-house pilots, with extensive experience in vehicle development. But Hyundai also turns to outside consultants like Dirk Schoysman, a driver with more than a million kilometers of prototype testing and who knows every bump on the Nürburgring. This crossing of information and opinions enriches the development process with new points of view. Typically 600 kilometers are covered per day of testing. And each lap around the track is done at a minimum of 90% of the car's capacity, with a target lap time that should not be exceeded.
Since the opening of the Nürburgring center, Hyundai Motor has tested 40 cars in this scenario, which have covered more than 20.000 laps of the circuit. In total, 416.000 kilometers of tests have been carried out, which is equivalent to 7,6 million kilometers of use by customers. And these numbers keep increasing every day.
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