60 km from Delhi, this place plays a big role in writing the story of Indian Automotive. It is also the birthplace of some of the best selling vehicles in the country. This is where cars drive off real ground, leaving computer screens and clay modeling studios. The place is equipped with 33 test tracks and around 250 testing and validation labs. This is where Maruti has shaped one of its most important models, the new Grand Vitara, and molded it into reality.
Welcome to Maruti Suzuki ‘s Research and Development Center in Rohtak, Haryana. This 600-acre facility has been built with an investment of Rs 3,800 crore, where vehicles are tested on aspects like their technology, crash-test, engine etc. This place is very confidential and the use of cell phones etc. is prohibited here, so you will have to submit these at the beginning.
focus on customers
At this facility, research and development is done for Suzuki and models are made for Japan. While the Rohtak plant produces global models, it is also focused on meeting the needs of the Indian customers. On the same lines, we were invited to visit this 250 R&D Labs in Rohtak as the new Grand Vitara is designed keeping in mind the needs of the customers.
There is also extra load on this center. It has also been entrusted with the task of developing the technologies of the future and sensing trends. In this episode, Rohtak is preparing to add ADAS, technology related to 5G connectivity and select features found in luxury cars to budget cars.
As an immediate solution, work is also underway to update the IC engines as per the new emission norms. They are also working on new engines that can be run on the ethanol-heavy E85 and E100 or alternative fuels like Bio-CNG. This will be Maruti’s solution for some time due to the government’s change in the rules of passenger vehicles. And in terms of long term solutions, Maruti is working on affordable, practical and aspirational hybrids and EVs.
Now let’s talk about labs…
The first lab we saw was a semi-anechoic chamber. This is where the Grand Vitara NVH was worked on and improved upon. When we drove the Vitara on the same tour, we realized that Maruti has further refined the Vitara to meet the price expectations. Let us tell you that the price of Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara will reach around Rs 20 lakh. In the vehicle, this refinement has been done on the chambers and test tracks.
Maruti uses a variety of microphones in the lab and the 3D acoustic camera inside the vehicle to capture different types of extraordinary noise levels in the vehicle. Based on the results, engineers work on increasing or decreasing the sound insulation of the vehicle.
After this we reached the Drivetrain Testing Lab. This is where Maruti enables its vehicles to cover maximum distances with less fuel. The band’s new vehicle Grand Vitara is also going to be added to this list. But this lab doesn’t just do that. Here the engines are run on test beds to test its durability, effectiveness and NVH. These test beds are designed to simulate real-life driving and use conditions, even at unbearable temperatures. According to Maruti, different types of engines, manual and automatic, from ICE to hybrid and EV can be tested in this lab. The Lab can also test FF, FR, 2WD and AWD layouts with the Jimny and Grand Vitara’s 4WD and AWD drive configurations.
road and lab
Of all this, what I enjoyed the most was the tyre-coupled load-simulator, where the overall durability of the vehicle is tested. To understand this in common language, the four wheels of the vehicle are kept at four different places (posts). These posts are hydraulically activated and can be activated completely differently from each other. However, these are linked to software programs where real-life road conditions can be created.
Therefore, here an artificial feeling of rambler strips or links of plastic speed-breakers etc. can be created. This data can be used to generate suspension on the vehicle’s travel, stiffness and damping etc. When we drove the same tested Grand Vitara, it felt quite comfortable on the speed brakes. This gave the rear seat plenty of ground clearance and balanced suspension travel while not creating a lot of bounce. And like other Rohtak labs, it is also designed to run continuously, to reduce testing time.
matter of issue
Eventually we arrived at the crash test facility. It is quite common for journalists to see and understand such a facility, but it is good news that here we actually witness the crash test. In my 20 years of motoring journalism, I’ve only seen this five times, with this one being the fifth. Trust me, no matter how much preparation you come with, you are bound to feel a jolt after seeing the impact. Well, after this impact the real story begins, where the passenger sales are checked. It is seen that even if the doors were not opened, there was no fatal injury in this car worth lakhs. Also very sensitive dummies are tested. When many such questions are resolved by the engineers, then the vehicle gets a green signal and it can actually proceed to go on the road.
We saw the Brezza crash test with 40 percent offset at a top speed of 64 kmph. On the same lines, GNcap also gives its star ratings. For those who are not aware of this, let us tell you that the Brezza and Grand Vitara are based on Suzuki’s Tect i.e. TECT Global C platform. The old Brezza had achieved a four star rating in the GNcap, so we expect the new one to perform even better. Later, Maruti plans to test the speed of 56 kmph and 64 kmph. This gives hope that Maruti’s cars can be even safer going forward.