Last month, we told you that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) announced a new series called “FCA: What’s Behind”. The project documentary narrates the behind the scene look at the complex Research & Development (R&D) phases for FCA-branded vehicles. This is the first time that FCA has opened its doors to the world, showcasing its operation centers.
While the first episode focused on the bitter cold FCA testing grounds in Arjeplog, Sweden, the second episode features the company’s torrid heat testing in Upington, in the Northern Cape province of South Africa, on the border with Botswana and Namibia.
Upington was chosen because the development plan of a car is not always coherent with seasons in the northern hemisphere and because the town on the banks of the Orange River has the ideal conditions for testing vehicles in torrid heat. Upington is one of the hottest towns in South Africa and the ideal place to assess borderline or worst-case scenarios and to strike the right trade-off between hot temperature performance as a whole against speed, elevation, and heat.
Unlike the proving ground of Arjeplog, there are no test facilities in Upington. The tests are performed in locations which reproduce the characteristics necessary to assess specific aspects or performance trade-offs influenced by environmental features.
The vehicles are sent from Turin already equipped with the instruments needed for the tests and in addition to driving the technicians present in South Africa are also called to analyze the data collected during specific tests and transfers. All vehicle systems are monitored and any abnormal or unexpected behaviors are diagnosed to find a solution. The stream from Turin is continuous. The test team focuses on about twelve vehicles per session during which about twenty technicians are employed.
Each car must reach the production stage able to withstand all weather conditions. Specifically, in the hot climate, all year round means that all turning tests can be performed repeatedly, for instance on the engine, specifically focusing on cooling and driveability, on the air conditioning (A/C) system, to verify its ability to maintain climatic comfort, on material performance and on-vehicle system reaction times.
FCA What’s Behind: Episode 2 Image Gallery: