PLYMOUTH TOWNSHIP, MI – Robert Bosch LLC dedicates its new $37.5 million technical center here, devoted to research and development of starters, generators, electric drives and body electronics, including airbag controllers and driver assistance technologies.

Some 450 staffers have occupied the building since April and moved from rented office space near the company’s North American headquarters in nearby Farmington Hills.

The headquarters building is fully occupied, but the new 225,000-sq.-ft. (20,900-sq.-m) technical center has capacity for about another 150 people, says Peter Marks, chairman, president and CEO of Bosch’s North American unit.

The new tech center has more than 60 engineering and technical lab specialists working on development studies, design verification and production validation test plans.

The center houses a machine shop, quality lab, equipment crib, small-motor dynamometers and powder coat and paint booths, as well as testing chambers to evaluate vibration harshness, electro-magnetic compatibility and environmental performance.

Expanding Bosch’s ability to evaluate the durability of its products is a key mission for the new center, Marks tells Ward’s. “Auto makers are trying to get away from bench testing, and they want us to do more simulation,” he says. “We can do both virtual testing and testing of physical prototypes.”

Bosch designed the new tech center on Haggerty Road with energy efficiency in mind, deploying a closed-loop pump system to recover heat generated from thermal chambers and compressors in the lab to help heat the facility in winter.

The center also has a unique storm-water management system to promote a sustainable environment on the property. On-site wetlands, the planting of Michigan native grasses and other natural landscaping allow runoff water to be absorbed into the soil rather than retained in a holding pond.

Bosch also announces a partnership with the Detroit Science Center to create an electronic stability control (ESC) exhibit scheduled to debut in spring 2008 as part of the General Motors Transportation Gallery Vehicle Systems Lab.

The ESC exhibit will allow visitors to experience first-hand the difference that ESC makes on vehicle handling. Bosch is a leader in the technology, which uses sensors to detect that a vehicle is about to skid out of control and applies brakes to individual wheels to keep the vehicle moving in a straight line.

tmurphy@wardsauto.com