ABB invests in new R&D center to accelerate e-mobility innovation
Image courtesy of ABB

ABB invests in new R&D center to accelerate e-mobility innovation

Underlining its market leading position in electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure, ABB has invested USD10 million in an E-mobility Innovation Lab which will house 120 specialists working on next-generation solutions.

Designed to spur further innovations in e-mobility, the 3,600 m2 facility is based on the Delft University of Technology campus, in the Netherlands. The E-Mobility Innovation Lab will drive ABB’s future portfolio development, as well as R&D projects for EVs. In 2020, Delft University was ranked among the top 15 engineering and technology universities in the world.

Along with an investment of USD30 million into a global Center of Excellence and production site for EV charging infrastructure, due to open next year in Italy, the facility in Delft underlines ABB’s plans to grow investments in sustaining its technology leadership.

“Innovation is in our blood – ABB has led the way in EV charging and is proud to have played a key role in driving adoption rates of electric vehicles across the world. That is why we wanted to locate our E-mobility Innovation Lab in Delft, in the heart of the university campus, where we are surrounded by the brightest tech talents and start-ups in the Netherlands,” said Frank Muehlon, head of ABB’s global business for E-mobility Infrastructure Solutions.

The complex, which will house up to 120 specialists, marks the return of ABB’s EV charging business to the home of its conception. Indeed, the students who founded Epyon (the EV charging start-up acquired by ABB in 2011), were former students from Delft University of Technology.

“Within ABB Electrification, we invest approximately USD400 million per annum into R&D to ensure we remain at the forefront of technological leadership and set the standard when it comes to sustainable mobility. As part of this investment, we are focused on pushing the boundaries of e-mobility, predominantly in the areas of charging, storage and digitalisation. The new lab will allow us to strengthen our collaboration with EV manufacturers to drive further performance and progress across the sector,” Muehlon said.

Ensuring the seamless connection between vehicles, charging stations, charging networks, and the grid, together with the software systems that support them is a key focus for ABB. The E-mobility Innovation Lab has been fitted with the latest technology to ensure that ABB chargers are compatible with all types of vehicle. Simulators have been built exactly for this purpose, with 95% of all tests to be conducted with a digital copy of vehicles.

To test how vehicles perform in very hot or cold weather, ABB has developed special environmental testing rooms, where solutions will be subjected to extreme conditions, including temperatures from -40 to +100 degrees Celsius and high humidity. The atrium is large enough for manufacturers to drive their cars, buses or trucks into the warm and controlled environment to conduct testing, which will help advance charging for the rapidly growing electric-heavy vehicle segment.

As part of ABB’s commitment to support a low-carbon society, it was vital to not only create a building that can advance progress in sustainable mobility, but also to create a facility that will minimise its environmental impact.

For heating and cooling, the ABB complex will be connected to the Delft University of Technology geothermal heating/cooling plant. The roof will house solar panels, with solar inverters to convert DC harvested from the sun into AC, which together with ABB’s advanced building management system for climate and light control and battery storage system, will allow testing energy to be fed back into the grid.

In November this year, ABB announced that it will increase R&D and digital spend to about 5% of revenues per year led by the business. Across the group, ABB has around 7,000 employees in R&D with 60% of them focused on developing software and digital innovations.

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