Mitsubishi Electric Automotive America expands R&D center

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Mitsubishi Electric Automotive America announced that it is expanding its research and development center in Northville, Mich., to provide full engineering, development and testing services for its medium- and heavy-duty customers. The company says the advanced R&D facility will help customers save time in the development process and get their products to market much faster.

“We have used this facility for several years to develop and test starters for the automotive marketplace,” says Clint McDermott, research and development manager for Mitsubishi Electric Automotive America’s Engine Control Systems, who manages the center. “Extending our services to include engineering and testing of medium- and heavy- duty starters is a natural extension of the work we do here.”

The R&D facility is situated in a nearly 10,000-square-foot building that mirrors Mitsubishi Electric’s main development center in Himeji, Japan. At Northville, the company has hot and cold chambers where starters can be tested on Class 6-8 vehicles or individually as separate components. The chamber for complete vehicles uses a 300-hp motor to create temperatures from -40 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit, vary humidity from 5 to 99 percent, and generate wind speeds of up to 80 miles per hour. The smaller chambers can test starters in temperatures ranging from -100 to 374 degrees Fahrenheit.

The facility also is equipped with a solar simulation rack with lights that are 1½ times brighter than the sun; the system can reach maximum temperatures in 40 to 45 minutes. Dynamometers provide testing capabilities that measure starter performance in an accelerated amount of time. Development and testing data are forwarded to headquarters in Japan where they are analyzed and used to ensure quality and performance.

“The expansion of the R&D center is great for our medium- and heavy-duty customers,” says Dave Stone, executive director of Mitsubishi Electric’s Powertrain, Body and Chassis business. “Not only are they able to have starters tested to their specifications at a state-of-the-art facility near home, but they can visit the facility, view the work under way and actively participate in the process.”

The facility is designed to test six medium- and heavy-duty engines at a time, and engine starters can be cycled 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Live engine testing procedures can be up and running in less than two weeks, including construction of engine stands and other test equipment and modification of engines and controls to comply with the needed testing. Heavy-duty starters that are received by Mitsubishi Electric’s Northville facility for warranty analysis typically can be analyzed and addressed with customers in three to five days.

“Our capabilities with medium- and heavy-duty starters are a distinct competitive advantage,” says Stone. “Today’s customers are looking for supplier partners who provide excellent value and response time, and we are committed to achieving these through the added advantage of our research and development center in Northville.”