Five Things To Know About Asia’s Longest Test Track Facility NATRAX India
Published On Jun 30, 2021 02:30 PM By Dhruv
NATRAX is a comprehensive vehicle testing facility in Pithampur, Madhya Pradesh, that allows carmakers to conduct real world as well as lab tests on their vehicles
Vehicle testing is an integral part of any new car. Lakhs of kilometres of testing is done in the real world before a new model hits showroom floors. However, it is not always possible to replicate all conditions, or conduct all kinds of tests safely in the real world and that is where NATRAX (National Automotive Test Tracks) comes in. It is a facility that was set up primarily by the Government of India, so that carmakers can test their vehicles. Recently, NATRAX added a new high-speed test track to its premises, but that’s not the only cool thing at NATRAX. Here are five reasons why we think the NATRAX facility is a dream come true for any automotive enthusiast:
1) High-speed test track
An 11.3km long high-speed test track was recently inaugurated at NATRAX. It’s the longest of its kind in Asia and the fifth-longest in the world. This test track is capable of unlimited speeds on the straights, and vehicles can corner up to a speed of 375kmph. More than that, the surface has been designed in such a way that no steering input will be required up to 250kmph. At speeds higher than that, a slight steering input is required to keep the vehicle straight. This is a really cool feat as carmakers will be able to conduct a number of high speed tests on this surface, and won’t have to send the prototypes of their vehicles outside of India for this purpose. Not only that, it could also spur indigenous supercar brands that require high speed testing locations.
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2) Multi friction braking test track
Hitting high triple-digit speeds is all fun and games, but to come to a stop safely, you need good brakes. NATRAX has a brake testing facility for this very reason. Braking in the real world is never the same. Different road conditions allow for different friction levels, which means that if all parameters are kept the same, a vehicle will come to a stop at different distances on different surfaces, when the brakes are applied. The NATRAX facility has different surfaces laid out one next to the other, such as concrete, asphalt, basalt, etc. All categories of vehicles can be tested on such a surface. These tracks are quite useful for developing good braking hardware, understanding tyre rubber, and tuning ABS systems.
3) Handling circuit for 4 wheelers
Individual testing facilities are great for judging a single system, but for judging a vehicle as a whole, you need a circuit with varying parameters. NATRAX has just that. Its handling circuit is only meant for 4 wheelers. It is 3.6km in length, 8m wide and turns where the radius ranges from 20m to 300m. The track also has a road gradient anywhere from 1.5 percent to 4.5 percent, which means the elevation keeps changing.
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4) Accelerated fatigue track
In the real world, vehicles degrade over time as they come across natural obstacles in their path. Carmakers however have to test this degradation before they can launch a new car, and they don’t have years to test this. This is where the accelerated fatigue track of NATRAX comes into play. This track has obstacles built into it that are meant to accelerate the wear and tear of parts. In total, there are 28 different types of obstacles and carmakers can choose what tests they want to conduct. This allows them to test certain parts of the car, or the car as a whole.
5) Lab testing
NATRAX has practical testing facilities which are complemented by a range of different labs. From the dynamics of a vehicle, to its engine, battery and most of the electronic instruments onboard, NATRAX has dedicated labs to test them all. There is even a facility where vehicle modelling can be done using computer systems like CAD (modelling software).
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