Minnesota Center for Automotive Research (MNCAR) Lab

The Minnesota Center for Automotive Research was established as an applied research center in 1998. 

Initially located in Nelson Hall 103, the Nelson Hall lab remains in the original location. The Nelson Hall lab contains more than $400,000 in major equipment. A central component of the lab is a chassis dynamometer that simulates realistic driving conditions and allows data to be collected on emissions and fuel economy. The lab has a Critical Flow Venturi sampling system that collects measurements of THC, NOx, CO, CO2. An engine test cell and raw gas emission bench allow for the emission measurement of stationary engines. Finally, the lab has meters and test equipment to test electric vehicle components, including electric drive systems and energy storage systems.

Chassis dyno emissions test


SMall engine dyno set up


Electric UTV Testing


In 2009, as a result of private donations, a Minnesota Department of Education and Economic Development (DEED) grant, and a U.S. Department of Energy Grant, an additional MnCAR space was planned. In 2012, the MnCAR North facility came online and significantly improved and expanded the Center’s research and testing capabilities. 

The facility contains more than $2 million in equipment that allows testing for companies needing data for EPA certification purposes. The lab includes many capabilities that cannot be found in other independent labs in the upper Midwest. Testing is available in the following areas:

  • Light duty vehicle emission certification testing
  • Motorcycle emission certification testing
  • ATV and UTV emission certification testing
  • Vehicle evaporative emission testing
  • Small engine emission certification testing
  • Large diesel engine emission certification testing
  • Engine particulate emission testing
  • Electric vehicle testing and evaluation

Students use MnCAR to evaluate engine performance, vehicle performance, and emission characteristics on a variety of engines, power systems, and fuels. The Center is an integral component of the AET Program. Undergraduate and graduate students are involved in all of the research projects.