Wanna see how Fiat Chrysler tests a Jeep Gladiator? Sure you do.
Carmakers are very keen to make off-road vehicles and then say they’re capable of enduring whatever terrain you can throw at it, but how can they know for sure? How can an automotive manufacturer test their upcoming tough-as-nails pickup to see if it can actually survive driving through potholes, day in and day out, for years on end?
As usual, technology shows us the way. Fiat Chrysler has a massive testing facility in Windsor, Ontario, Canada that puts every FCA vehicle through its paces.
When it comes to testing off-road utility vehicles like the Jeep Wrangler or Gladiator, FCA has a special machine that really gives it the business. It’s essentially a series of huge pneumatic pumps that attach to each of the vehicle’s wheels and then start moving to simulate the sort of surface that these vehicles need to be able to survive. Sometimes this is gentle hills and curves, but in the case of off-road vehicles like the Wrangler and Gladiator, it simulates rough uneven surfaces.
And it also simulates those surfaces if they were driven for 24-hours per day, 7 days a week for a full 6 weeks. That amounts to a real-world time of being driven for 10 years or 160,000 miles. Then, FCA engineers do a complete vehicle tear-down where they examine not just the suspension and drive components, but also the interior, the chassis, and every frame weld joint for signs of damage or wear.
Obviously, this only simulates wear from actually moving and not corrosion or any damage caused by being outside and exposed to the elements for a decade, but this gives FCA a good idea of how well their vehicles will hold up.
FCA’s Windsor facility also tests every other aspect of their cars, from seating to headlights. There’s also a high-tech virtual reality simulator pod that’s basically a Ram 1500 cab mounted on top of a pneumatic platform and surrounded by 4K projectors. It can simulate changes in the vehicle before FCA makes those changes in a production car, saving them thousands of hours tinkering with designs.
Check out the video from TFLoffroad above to see more.