Maruti Suzuki India is rapidly ramping up its engineering and testing capabilities. The country’s largest carmaker has showcased its global-scale, state-of-the-art R&D Centre at Rohtak, Haryana, which will see a total investment of Rs 3,800 crore by 2019.
According to the company, the R&D Centre is poised to become one of the most advanced R&D facilities in India and among the top facilities in Asia. Spread across a 600-acre campus, the integrated R&D Centre has state-of-the-art vehicle testing and evaluation labs, besides a world-class proving ground with 31 unique test tracks that traverse over 31 kilometres replicating real life terrain.
Maruti Suzuki says that over the past decade, it has trained and developed engineers for R&D activities by enabling exposure to new model development as well as implementing special projects along with more experienced engineers at Suzuki Motor Corporation, Japan on design and technology. Nearly 35% of R&D engineers in Maruti Suzuki have already been trained at Suzuki, Japan for up to two years, and built the competence to develop vehicles with advanced features and high quality and safety.
The company’s first R&D success was the facelift of the Zen in 2003, followed by the co-design of the Swift with the Suzuki global R&D team in 2005 and working on the full body change of the Alto in 2012. Since then, overall team competence of the team grew steadily with the introduction of new models and technologies, leading up to the carmaker’s first-ever compact SUV, the Vitara Brezza in 2016.
The popular Vitara Brezza compact SUV, which was conceptualised, designed and developed in India used some of the facilities at this R&D Centre.
Now, with global-level testing facilities at Rohtak and the capability of Maruti Suzuki engineers working in close partnership with the R&D team at Suzuki, Japan, Maruti aims to test and evaluate vehicles at this R&D Centre.
The Vitara Brezza is the first vehicle in India to be certified for offset and side impact crashes, much ahead of the advanced safety regulations to be mandated by the government in India. The Vitara Brezza was certified by the homologation agency before its launch in March 2016, well before the advanced regulations come into effect in India.
Ignis, S-Cross, Ciaz, Baleno & Ertiga meet advanced safety norms
The recently launched Ignis meets advanced safety requirements before regulations are introduced in India. Like the Vitara Brezza, the Ignis was also tested and evaluated at the crash labs and proving ground at the R&D Centre at Rohtak. At its launch in January 2017, all variants of Ignis were officially certified for all advanced safety norms on offset, side impact and pedestrian safety.
Also, over the past few months, other models like the S-Cross, Ciaz, Baleno and Ertiga have been tested and certified by official homologation agencies for advanced safety regulations on offset, side impact and pedestrian safety.
To meet the advanced safety regulations, each of these vehicles has undergone 35-40 tests during design and development over 3-4 years. Clearly, the state-of-the-art crash lab facilities and proving ground at Rohtak, together with the capability of its engineers, have enabled the carmaker to meet advanced safety regulations in these five models, ahead of schedule.
With this, about 75-80% of cars in the Maruti Suzuki portfolio would become compliant to these norms, about a year ahead of them becoming mandatory in India, giving the company an advantage in the marketplace.
New fifth-generation vehicle platform
The global R&D team at Suzuki, Japan and Maruti Suzuki has developed a new fifth-generation vehicle platform designed to provide advanced safety to occupants, without compromising on fuel efficiency, emission or performance. Called Total Effective Control Technology (TECT), this innovation ensures that the vehicle is safer, stronger, 10% more rigid while being 15% lighter.
Through TECT, the vehicle structure is engineered in a manner that in the event of an accident, the crash energy is absorbed in the designated front/side area keeping the occupant compartment intact. This latest platform directs the crash energy from the vehicle front to the rear keeping the compartment intrusions minimal. TECT also ensures that the safety systems such as seatbelt/airbag remain in the correct position to provide maximum protection to the occupant.
Besides TECT, use of new material like high tensile steel (stronger and safer while being lighter) and other innovations, big and small, have enabled Maruti Suzuki to overcome the trade-offs and optimise advanced safety along with superior emission and performance.
These innovations have come together in the Baleno hatchback, which is nearly 90kg lighter than a conventional platform and is consequently more fuel efficient. Its longer wheelbase gives more space, comfort and convenience to occupants. And to top it, the Baleno meets all advanced safety regulations.
Highlights of the Rohtak Proving Ground
According to Maruti Suzuki, the Rohtak proving ground, which is at par with the proving grounds of Suzuki Motor Corporation, Japan, is one of the most advanced in Asia. It has 31 different tracks to conduct various tests for design, development, emission and safety. Some of the prominent test tracks are:
High-speed circuit: For high-speed and acceleration tests.
Vehicle ride and handling tracks: With skid pads and bends for steering and suspension evaluation.
Gradient roads for vehicle drivability performance tracks: To evaluate vehicle stability.
Low friction surfaces or ABS tracks: Simulating various braking conditions and development of new brake system for new models.
Endurance track: For vehicle durability performance evaluation and component performance.
ISO paved track: To measure exterior static and dynamic noise.
Special test facilities: To simulate Indian driving conditions such as salt water road, muddy road, and potholes. The potholes track helps evaluate the impact of shocks and jerks when driving over potholes. Stringent and robust durability tests are undertaken to assess the vehicle performance in negotiating potholes.
Maruti says all the test tracks at the Rohtak R&D centre are based on Suzuki global test standards and with Suzuki technical know-how.