NORTHVILLE, MI – IAV is an engineering-services company founded in Berlin in 1983, expanding to the U.S. in 1998 and establishing a North American headquarters and powertrain testing facility here in 2009.

The timing couldn’t have been better to invest $35 million in the U.S., as the auto industry was about to roar back from a devastating recession and dozens of bankruptcy filings from parts makers, as well as General Motors and Chrysler.

Since 2009, IAV’s North American sales have grown at an astounding pace, doubling from 2010 to 2011 and tripling from 2010 to $26 million in 2012. More growth is expected this year. The number of IAV employees in Michigan has more than doubled in the past year, to 170.

In June, the supplier added a location in Auburn Hills, MI, which includes capabilities for hardware-in-loop testing. More than 15 people occupy the office, and headcount is expected to reach 25 by year’s end. The supplier plans to grow this number to 50 in 2014.

Andy Ridgway, president-IAV Automotive Engineering, joined the company in 2011 and credits German management for its long-term strategic thinking.

“They committed to investment in 2008 at a time when the bottom fell out of the industry,” Ridgway says. “They stuck with it and realized things would come back.”

After four years at its tech center here, four dynamometer test cells are fully occupied, and Ridgway says as many as four more are needed. The facilities were laid out with infrastructure for 12 test cells, and there is space for new brick and mortar. A multi-channel high-voltage battery simulation test cell also was added this year.

“We have a capital investment plan,” Ridgway tells WardsAuto. “At this point, I have six to seven different scenarios as to what form of investment that capital will take, whether it’s four engine test cells or two engine test cells and one chassis dynamometer, or whether it’s even something more exotic. We have to see.”

The four test cells are available to run two 8-hour shifts daily. “In 2012, we were overutilized,” Ridgway says. “We ran over 16 hours a day five days a week” and exceeded 100% capacity utilization.

The facility can run every engine test cycle used in every region of the world. Some tests last 30 seconds, some several weeks.

Last year’s workload was driven largely by diesel-emissions testing. About 60% of IAV’s global revenues stem from work dedicated to gasoline and diesel engines.

This year, capacity utilization is down to about 85% because of a wider range of customer projects that require more setup time. While last year’s focus was on diesel, this year’s work in the test cells is split almost evenly between gasoline and diesel projects, the supplier says.