Honda will invest $124 million in a new wind tunnel at its Transportation Research Center in East Liberty, OH, with groundbreaking slated for this summer.

The new wind tunnel will be “multifunctional (and) aeroacoustic,” Honda says in a statement, thanks to an interchangeable belt system. A single/wide belt makes it possible for the race-centric automaker to test race cars and other performance models, while a 5-belt rolling-road system is specified for production-vehicle testing.

The tunnel will be capable of creating wind speeds up to 192 mph (309 km/h) and be available for use by others as the Japanese automaker notes it will have “four secure and confidential customer bays.”

Next-generation wind-noise reduction will be made possible via the strategic placement of microphones and cameras that will measure and identify exterior and interior vehicle noise issues.

“This new facility…will be integral to our aerodynamic and aeroacoustic R&D activity, which spans from advanced research and computer simulation, through scale-model and full-vehicle development, to production-vehicle performance assurance,” says Frank Paluch, president-Honda R&D Americas.

Automakers are paying more attention to aerodynamics and aeroacoustics. As U.S. and global fuel-economy standards toughen, high coefficients of drag can negatively impact fuel economy. At the same time, consumer complaints of excessive wind noise harm automakers’ performance on closely watched third-party surveys such as J.D. Power’s Initial Quality Study.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com