Silvio Piancastelli, Concept Development manager involved in the project, explains that until then, every car created in Latin America had undergone these tests in group laboratories located in the United States and Europe. "With the Betim Safety Center, we gained autonomy and reduced the time it takes to develop automobiles", he says. Space is what was missing in the region in order for FCA Latam to be fully autonomous in car creation and development. The first model developed 100% in Latin America was the New Fiat Uno in 2008, and vehicles such as Toro, Argo and Cronos have marked this evolution. "With this laboratory, the employees of Product Engineering FCA Latam have gained tremendous knowledge", completes Silvio.
With an investment of around R$ 40 million —including infrastructure, equipment and training — and the efforts of a team of fifty professionals, the Betim Safety Center will carry out frontal, posterior and lateral impact tests against rigid barriers and posts, with international standard tests covering all approved tests for LATIN NCAP (the New Cars Assessment Program for Latin America and the Caribbean). Silvio says that the laboratory is totally interconnected to the entire product development chain, "from the concept phase, through virtual simulations, to the physical tests of development and approval, and finally the production of the new vehicle". This fits into the Industry 4.0 context, to which the FCA aligns itself, where automation and data technologies streamline processes. With the help of virtual reality for instance, the development of vehicle prototypes is precise and affordable, once a real model is produced after complex 3D tests. "The physical car undergoes tests with all the engineering background and maturity acquired in the process. With that, we have few adjustments to make", according to Silvio and adding that the product's approval requires physical testing to materialize.