Electric vehicle development is quickly proving to be a worldwide effort, with companies and research institutes from across the globe and in varying industries and fields forming partnerships and alliances in order to accelerate the roll out of zero-emission electric vehicles.

Audi is one of the leaders in this field, previously announcing the establishment of the new e-tron sub-branding for electrified vehicles and then the formation of a partnership with China’s Tongji University to help with the research, instruction and services dealing with electromobility. Now the automaker has opened a physical center to group all the efforts of its electric vehicle development team, located at its Ingolstadt headquarters in Germany.

Approximately $100 million has been invested in the new building over the past two years. The 150,690 square-foot building houses numerous state-of-the-art test rigs, which can be used to test electric drive concepts.

Over a total of seven stories, engineers initially test the individual components, then simulate the interaction of drive system, battery and power electronics, and finally assemble the entire drivetrain for testing. In the next testing phase, tests are run with the complete vehicle in the altitude simulation chamber and the deep-freeze testing rig, subjecting the cars to various climatic conditions at 13,779.53 feet in altitude and temperatures of -40°F to +140°F.

There’s even an area dedicated to free thinking, where employees can get together spontaneously in order to discuss problems. Importantly, research is not just limited to electromobility. The building is also a hotbed for research into lightweight construction techniques.

The new research center is even spawning its first models. At next week’s 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show we will get to see one of the research center’s first models, the 2012 Audi Q5 Hybrid, and beyond that we’ll see the R8 e-tron electric sports car arrive in late 2012.