The legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans have always held a certain fascination, but is also a formidable challenge for drivers and race cars. The character of the race has changed greatly over the decades: once a consistency race, it is now a long-distance sprint race, essentially consisting of 2-hour intervals divided up over 24 hours.
Since the 70s of the last century, by far the majority of Le Mans victories were won with MAHLE pistons. From 2006 to 2008, the Audi team won with the 5.5-liter Audi R10 TDI, making history with the first diesel engine in Le Mans. In 2009 and 2010, the success story continued with the Audi R15 TDI. From 2012 to 2013, the 3.7-liter V6 Audi R18 e-tron quattro followed suit as the first hybrid vehicle. With the highest specific power output in the world, these diesel engines demonstrate maximum reliability and performance under the toughest conditions. The diesel engine has a peak pressure of far more than 200 bar and is very close to its optimum. MAHLE steel piston technology that is already in use here, however, offers additional potential for future leaps in development.
The extreme cylinder bank angle of 120° in the Audi racing diesel engine means that the pistons are nearly horizontal, placing particularly high stresses on the coatings of the pistons and the housing. Under the conditions within the diesel engine, with its extremely high combustion pressures and aluminum housing, the NIKASIL® coating developed by MAHLE continues to prove itself as a stable solution.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans are raising more and more interest from automobile manufacturers; competitive pressures will thus continue to increase in the future and many exciting technological approaches can be expected.
Over ninety years old, the Tech Center in Bad Cannstatt/Stuttgart is one of the oldest and largest R&D centers in the world. As the historical founding location and current headquarters of the MAHLE Group, this location is the core of the Company. Located in southern Germany, this Tech Center benefits from its direct proximity to the headquarters and production locations of many engine and automobile manufacturers. The colleges and think tanks in the area also offer enormous potential for both cooperative R&D work and the acquisition of employees in technical specialties.
Global corporate planning is very strongly influenced by Bad Cannstatt. In a global network with the other nine Tech Centers, about 1,000 mechanical and electrical engineers, chemists, physicists, and many other technicians and engineers in this center are working on a wide range of R&D projects. The scope of research and development includes all subdivisions of engine systems and components, filtration, engine peripherals, and industrial fields, comprising piston systems, cylinder components, valve train systems, air, fuel, and oil management as well as industrial filtration, industrial engine components, and thermal management.
Established: 1905, since 2013 within the MAHLE Group
Year current location was built: 1941
R&D employees: 1,035
Tech Center surface area: 18,000 sqm
In 1905, Julius Friedrich Behr joined the repair shop that Gustav Zoller had founded to build radiators, laying the cornerstone for the Behr company and for the current MAHLE Tech Center in Stuttgart-Feuerbach.
Back in 1937, the world’s first climatic wind tunnel for passenger cars was built at the Tech Center in Feuerbach/Stuttgart. For the first time, it was then possible to test engine cooling without elaborate test drives. Historical vehicles, such as the legendary Mercedes Silver Arrows, were tested and equipped with radiators from this location, and oil coolers for the initial VW Beetle prototypes were created here in a joint development effort with the Porsche development office.
Today, this Tech Center has become the center par excellence for (engine) cooling and air conditioning, with one of the most modern climatic wind tunnels, the engine cooling tunnel, and many other test facilities.