Our new electric taxi has undergone over a million miles of durability proving in the most demanding use scenarios, taking it from Coventry to some of the most hostile environments on earth.
How do you test a vehicle on every type of road surface and conditions at all speeds, consistently and in a repeatable way? Where can you take a vehicle past its limits of grip and expose it to physical abuse over and over again in safety? How can you subject a vehicle to many years’ exposure to salty winter roads when it’s warm outside?
Our permanent base at MIRA Technology Park near Coventry provides us with unrivalled access to one the largest, most comprehensive automotive proving grounds in the world. This 840-acre site houses 100km of test routes and 37 specialist test facilities including an advanced emissions test centre, climatic wind tunnels, kinematics and compliance facility, electromagnetic compatibility test chambers, crash test facilities and a myriad of other vehicle development laboratories. Our team of engineers works tirelessly to put our prototypes through a gruelling test regime; here are just a few examples:
- Extensive road testing on all surfaces to optimise durability, tyre wear, ride comfort and handling while driving over potholes, cobbles, rough concrete and even railway tracks
- A Kinematics and Compliance (or ‘shaker’) rig that vigorously works the suspension system and chassis and helps us to evaluate the performance, fit and wear of the components, as well as to eradicate annoying rattles and vibrations that could be heard inside the cabin
- The Climatic Wind Tunnel allows a vehicle to operate on a rolling road in sustained severe hot and cold temperatures with a realistic aerodynamic and wind chill effect. The vehicle is left in these conditions for days at a time to ensure every component is fully chilled or heated as would occur in real life
- A giant salt bath allows us to fully immerse the vehicle in a salt solution, expose it to the air and continue this process repeatedly to simulate driving for 15 years through cold winters with excessive road salt to gauge resistance to corrosion.
Despite this extensive programme, there is no substitute for testing in the real world. The UK’s unreliable weather means we don’t experience the right conditions to properly test for all climate conditions. Our strenuous testing regime has therefore taken the cab from the bitter cold of the Arctic Circle to the extreme desert heat of Arizona and across some of the most challenging terrain in the world.
By driving in these extreme environments, we can be confident of how different ambient temperatures, as well as use of equipment such as heating and ventilation, affect the electric range. We also fine-tune the calibration of systems to ensure they perform effectively no matter how severe the temperature outside, ensuring the vehicle can quickly reach and maintain a comfortable cabin temperature for the driver and passengers, de-frost and de-mist windows rapidly and, most importantly, ensure passengers arrive at their destination on time and in comfort.
Ambient temperature is just one aspect of our road tests; we carefully monitor the effects of direct sunlight, heat (and cold) soak, airborne sand and dust particles, and even the impact of different grip levels on the safety stability system.
As part of our commitment to delivering quality and durability, we have ensured our rigorous testing practises not only reflect those of the top global automotive companies, but also adapt and extend those practises to the specific needs of the taxi duty cycle; so whilst we appreciate that not every new electric taxi will be subject to such extremes, drivers can rest assured that their vehicle has been designed to go the distance.
Keep reading our updates to learn about the most important phase of our proving programme to come – later this year we’re putting the new electric taxi on the streets of London, in the hands of licensed taxi drivers. To be continued…