BMW Group’s state-of-the-art Energy and Environmental Test Centre (ETC) in Munich – which brings some of the world’s most extreme weather systems into one building – has been put to use to test the Olympic Torch ahead of its 70 day Olympic Relay around the UK.
The ETC, which is normally used to examine the performance of BMW Group vehicles through three wind tunnels and two climatic test chambers, is able to imitate hostile environments from around the world in one single laboratory. With a temperature range of -20C to +55C, BMW can replicate the Arctic Tundra and the Sahara Desert, while the wind speeds of up to 280 km/h are greater than those generated in most hurricanes. The facility can also replicate an altitude of 4,200 metres above sea level, four times the height of Ben Nevis, the highest Mountain in the UK.
BMW, as the Official Automotive Partner of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and an expert in efficiency and state-of-the-art testing, was the natural location to house a bespoke range of tests developed by LOCOG and the engineering partner of the Olympic Torch, Tecosim.
As the Olympic Torch travels around the UK it will have to stay alight in all British weather including freezing temperatures at the summit of Snowdon, swirling winds on the Shetland Islands and the summer heat of the South coast of England, not to mention the inevitable summer shower; all of which it will be able to cope with after going through the stringent testing process.
The Torch stood up to some extreme weather conditions at the BMW facility, enduring -5C to +40C temperatures, +50mph winds, snow packing the front of the torch and driving rain, as the flame stayed lit throughout.
Double Olympic champion, Daley Thompson, experienced some of the conditions first hand, standing in one of the wind tunnels at the ETC with the Olympic Torch. He said: “The Olympic Torch Relay is set to build excitement for London 2012 throughout the UK, so it’s really important that the Torch can cope with our unpredictable British weather. Seeing the facility that BMW has and knowing the Torch has been tested so robustly makes me sure we’re going to be able to build that excitement ahead of a brilliant summer of sport.”
Ralph Huber, Head of Technology Communications, BMW Group added: “The facility carries out around 15 hours of tests per day, allowing us to scrutinise all our vehicles and bring greater efficiency to the development of new cars from concept to the road. By providing the facility to LOCOG we hope that we have helped play a part in the successful replication of a similar process for the Olympic Torch.”
As part of its partnership with the London 2012 Olympic Games, BMW Group will provide torchbearers from their customers, dealers, staff and charity places. The Olympic Torch Relay will begin its 70 day tour on 19 May, involving 8,000 torchbearers and travelling within 10 miles of 95 per cent of the UK’s population.