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Volvo Group breaks ground on $33M vehicle propulsion lab in Hagerstown

During a groundbreaking ceremony today, the Volvo Group announced a $33 million expansion of its powertrain research and development site in Hagerstown, Maryland for the construction of a new, state-of-the-art Vehicle Propulsion Lab.

An artist’s rendering of a $33 million expansion of the Volvo Group’s powertrain research and development site in Hagerstown with the construction of a new, state-of-the-art vehicle propulsion lab. (Submitted rendering).

The Volvo Group announced a $33 million expansion of its powertrain research and development site in Hagerstown for the construction of a new Vehicle Propulsion Lab during a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday.

Volvo’s VPL will be the first facility in North America to allow comprehensive testing of current and future products for Volvo Trucks, Mack Trucks, Prevost, and Volvo Bus to meet evolving government regulations and ensure high performance on North American roadways.

Housed under one roof, the lab will consist of two environmental chambers. One chamber will have a chassis dyno capable of emissions measurements and simulating extreme-weather and altitude conditions. The second will offer testing of fully operative vehicles, including highway and vocational trucks, as well as coach buses, for starting in a variety of weather conditions.

Additional testing features in the VPL will include:

  • Operating from -22 degrees F to 104 degrees F for development and verification activities
  • Wind speed simulation up to 85 mph
  • Vehicle absorbing and motoring capability up to 1600 horsepower (1200 kW)
  • Altitude simulation up to 14,000 feet
  • Various types of performance and emissions testing for battery electric, fuel cell, hybrid, natural gas and diesel technologies
  • Capability to test highway and vocational Class 8 trucks and coach buses for North American, South American and European applications.

The company also expects the new lab to help drive ongoing product-quality improvements and speed-to-market capabilities due to the strategic migration from on-road testing to controlled, lab-environment testing.

At final construction, the VPL will be more than 35,000 square feet, two stories high and connected to the existing engine development lab on the Hagerstown campus. It’s been 15 years since the current lab went into operation, which involved a $40 million investment at the time. Since then, the company has spent an additional $12 million upgrading the test cells, a portion of which was used to enable the creation of electricity regeneration when operating the dyno tests.

The Volvo Group employs more than 250 people at the current site from engineering, procurement, environmental, health and safety functions. The new VPL will add close to 10 new jobs, including both non-bargaining and United Auto Workers union-represented team members.

The company’s Hagerstown campus is also home to the Volvo Group’s powertrain manufacturing facility, producing engines, transmissions and axles for Mack Trucks, Volvo Trucks, Prevost coaches and Volvo Buses sold in North America. Employing more than 1,700 team members, the company has invested more than $294 million since 2011 at the 1.5 million-square-foot manufacturing facility.