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MESSRING supplies cutting-edge crash test facility to Chrysler Group LLC in Michigan

The vehicle safety requirements stipulated by institutessuch as the New Car Assessment Programme (NCAP) and the Insurance Institute forHighway Safety (IIHS) are becoming more and more stringent and the associatedtest procedures more complex. As a result, vehicle manufacturers such as Chryslerneed to install cutting-edge testing equipment in their own crash testfacilities, allowing them to develop products that meet the full range ofrequirements of vehicle testing authorities in the future as well as buildsafer, more reliable cars. For this reason, in spring 2013 the Groupcommissioned the company MESSRING Systembau GmbH based in Munich tocomprehensively modernize and upgrade the central testing facility in Chelsea,Michigan – the world-renowned Chelsea Proving Grounds (CPG). The testing groundshave a size of approx. 3,800 acres and the CPG were founded in 1954. MESSRINGis the world’s leading supplier of crash test facilities and their componentsand has already implemented more than 100 large-scale testing centers.

Chrysler ordered the cutting-edge MicroTrack system fromMESSRING, including a drive system with electric motor, M=LIGHT LED lamps, curbtest equipment featuring a special sled, and two new film pits. First, theexisting track system for accelerating test vehicles was replaced with thetried-and-tested MicroTrack system. The system offers a major benefit: theguide channel is much thinner than in conventional systems, allowing for manymore details to be captured in vehicle crash video footage from below in thefilm pit – a key criteria for evaluating vehicle crashing behavior. In oldertrack systems, the wide guide channels obstruct the most important details.Chrysler can operate the track system in two directions using the same guidechannel:  towards the impact block insidethe hall and towards the outer area of the facility.

The narrower, nearly zero-clearance system for guidingthe new trolley also promotes better control of the test vehicle and higherprecision in terms of speed and point of impact. The highly versatileMicroTrack can be installed with various lengths, ranging from a few meters(low-speed systems such as RCAR tests) to several hundred meters, regardless ofwhether the track system is located in a hall or outside. System performance andprecision have improved significantly thanks to the new drive system. Vehicleswith a total weight of 4.6 metric tons can now be accelerated at speeds of upto 120 km/h along the 220-meter track.

In addition to a high-speed camera, you also needflawless illumination of the impact zone in order to effectively document theexact moment of the actual crash. The formula for success is relatively simple:plenty of light promotes high depth of focus and short exposure times andtherefore greater detail for subsequent evaluation. More importantly, it’seasier to observe deformation of the vehicle bodywork, which is important fortesting engineers. For this reason, Chrysler opted for MESSRING’s M=LIGHT LEDlamps. This technology is revolutionary in the crash test industry and wasinstalled in the US for the first time, at a customer’s site. The 46 LED lampswere all installed in the two film pits at the testing center. The rear impactpit and the front pit at the impact block are both located inside the crash testcenter’s large-scale test hall in Michigan, which measures 43 x 26 meters, andare both protected by a robust pane of plexiglass.

When the installed light batteries are activated, theM=LIGHT LEDs immediately deliver the maximum amount of light and the perfectcolor temperature of approximately 6,500 Kelvin. Synchronizing them withhigh-speed cameras can double the amount of illumination. The result is crystalclear images from the floor of the tested vehicle during impact.

A specialty of the American market is the curb test, andthe crash test specialist in Munich supplied all of the required testingequipment to the American car manufacturer. This crash test examines thefunctioning of restraint systems such as side airbags when a car flips overafter impact with a curb. The most important testing component is a specialsled that carries the test vehicle at an angle to the direction ofacceleration. It’s propelled using the MicroTrack system and features targetedbraking based on special hydraulic dampers. A belt system prevents the car fromflipping over, so that the simulated impact with the curb doesn’t destroy thetest vehicle. The product is a customized design for Chrysler.

Douglas R. Grimm, Impact Operations Supervisor atChrysler, sees the collaboration as extremely positive: “Even before we awardedthe contract, we knew that MESSRING is a respected company in the safetytesting industry. Teamwork throughout the entire project was very professionaland efficient. We’re more than satisfied with the new system technology.”

All the modernization and upgrade work was completed atthe end of 2013 and only took eight weeks, allowing Chrysler to begin using thefacility again on December 20, 2013, following a successful final inspection.At the Chelsea facility, Chrysler is testing all of the models in its extensiverange, from the Fiat 500 and heavy SUVs to the Dodge pickups.

The CEO of MESSRING Systembau GmbH, Dierk Arp, isdelighted with how smoothly the entire project went. “In the US, we’ve already designed,built or equipped several crash test facilities and, still, we always feel asense of pride when we can work for companies as renowned as Chrysler.  At the moment, you can clearly see thatthere’s a need for modernization of existing vehicle testing centers in the USmarket. Companies haven’t invested the time and money for some time now. That’swhy we offer non-binding analysis of systems on-site, so we can recommendsuitable upgrades where necessary.”

Video showing the use of the MicroTrack sled system:

Video of the propulsion system:


MESSRING Systembau GmbH of Munich is the world’s leadingmanufacturer of crash test systems and components. The mid-size company designsand builds turnkey test systems for customers in all relevant markets and onnearly all continents. To date, MESSRING has implemented more than 100 largecrash test systems for automotive OEMs, automotive suppliers, governmentalauthorities and insurance companies – more than any other company. In theprocess, the global market leader continues to astonish the industry time andagain with innovative advances and revolutionary new solutions, whether insystem design, the actual measurement equipment, or in documentation andrecording of individual tests.

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