BMW will be spending more than €100 million ($118 million) on the development of a new test track in the Czech Republic for self-driving vehicles and electric vehicles, a company exec has revealed.
The 1200-acre (500-hectare) site that the new test track is to be located at is in relative proximity to the border with Germany, so will be fairly convenient for the firm. The allures of the Sokolov, Czech Republic, location are the operational and labor costs there (as compared to those costs in Germany).
Notably, the facility will represent BMW’s first vehicle testing facility in Eastern Europe. The Sokolov site was reportedly chosen from amongst a field of 82. The test track will be used to test self-driving systems, automatic braking systems, etc.
“The BMW Group is at the vanguard of technology. As an innovation driver, we aim to offer customers the best, most emotional mobility experience and create digital connections between people, vehicles and services,” Dr. Herbert Grebenc, BMW’s Senior Vice President of Real Estate Management and Corporate Security, stated at the event. “At the planned proving facility in Sokolov, we will continue to advance ground-breaking topics, such as electrification, digitalisation and automated driving – for example, through safety-testing for assistance systems.”
It’s not as if BMW wasn’t doing any such testing before, though. The German company has testing facilities in Aschheim, Germany (near Munich); Miramas, France; and Arjeplog, Sweden. However, the capacity of those facilities is apparently maxed out given the needs.
BMW is, as you may remember, now planning to release 25 plug-in electric vehicles by 2025 — roughly half of which are expected to be fully electrics (EVs) rather than plug-in hybrids (PHEVs). That’s expected to be 15–25% of the company’s sales. Other BMW highlights in the second half of this year include a new BMW i8 Roadster, the company is in talks with other automakers around the world about potential EV partnerships in other regions, it is investing €200 million (~$237 million) into a new battery cell competence center, it commissioned a large battery storage project in Leipzig equipped with used EV batteries (coordinated with the production of BMW’s 100,000th i3), and it is part of the consortium that launched the IONITY superfast charging network for Europe. BMW also rolled out the MINI Countryman ALL4 plug-in hybrid.
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