GM China opens its advanced climate and wind-tunnel testing facility in Shanghai, the first such system to be operated in the country by a global auto maker.

The 36,600-sq.-ft. (3,400-sq.-m) facility, built at a cost of RMB 180 million ($28.6 million), is located at the Pan Asia Automotive Technical Center in Shanghai. PATAC is a 50/50 joint venture of Shanghai General Motors and Chinese auto maker SAIC Motor.

The climate and wind-tunnel system incorporates capabilities the auto makers say are a first for the industry in China. It simulates rain and snow and has controllable, full-spectrum sunshine simulation ranging from mild to desert conditions.

The auto makers say the system has the widest temperature-simulation range of any in China, from -104° F to 140° F (-40° to 60° C) with a rapid-temperature conversion rate of 1.1° F ( 0.6° C) per minute.

It also has the largest humidity range in China, ranging from 5% to 95%, and creates wind-speed pressures up to 155 mph (250 km/h) with speed deviation of less than 1%.

An additional feature is a road-simulation, rotating-hub system that enables vehicles to be climate-tested indoors under varying road conditions. PATAC engineers say this can reduce the need for outdoor climate road tests by about 80%.

The wind tunnel also is equipped with dynamometer test cells and will support development of both conventional and new alternative energy-vehicles.

The tunnel is specially suited for research and testing of hybrids and electric vehicles, including extending vehicle range by precisely optimizing heating, ventilation and air conditioning and propulsion cooling systems to suit various regions and driving conditions, the engineers say.