The BMW Group will construct a new proving ground in the Czech Republic to provide additional capacity for testing activities. With a growing number of models and new technologies to be tested and developed, the existing facilities in near Munich (Germany), in Miramas (France) and in Arjeplog (Sweden) are fully utilised so the company has been looking for a new site in the past few months.
Announcing the plan, Dr. Herbert Grebenc, BMW AG, Human Resources, Senior Vice President Real Estate Management, Corporate Security, said: “We found the ideal conditions and grounds we need for vehicle testing in Sokolov in the Czech Republic. Opening our first development location in Eastern Europe will create new opportunities and marks a milestone in the history of our company. Working with the property owner Sokolovska uhelna and all political representatives has been extremely positive so far and is based on mutual trust.”
The roughly 500-hectare property to be developed is close about 2½-hour drive from the BMW Group’s main development site in Munich. Activities at the new facility, to be operational early in the next decade, will include development of technologies related to electrification, digitalisation and automated driving.
BMW’s investment in the Karlovary Vary region where the facility will be located is of great significance. Mining activities in Sokolov will be gradually declining in future so the several hundred jobs created through construction of a proving ground will be greatly welcome. There will also be attractive new employment opportunities in development and related areas for in the region.
The company already announced in December 2016 that it would be concentrating its development expertise in vehicle connectivity and automated driving at a new site near Munich. Upon final completion, more than 2,000 staff will work at the new location in areas from software development to road-testing with the aim of developing the next steps towards fully-automated driving.
Agile teams working in close proximity – especially for decision-making – define the new work structures. In 2017, to coincide with the opening of the campus, a total of 40 BMW 7-Series test vehicles for highly and fully-automated driving on motorways and in urban settings have been built and tested. These vehicles have been deployed at Intel (USA), Mobileye (Israel) and BMW Group (Munich) locations.