The first two modules for testing autonomous vehicles and assistance systems have been built at the BMW Group’s new mobility centre in Sokolov. The opening of these test tracks is an important milestone in the construction of the BMW Group’s first development facility in Central Europe. The full introduction of the Sokolov facility into operation is planned for summer 2023, when it will join the BMW Group’s existing development centres in Aschheim near Munich, Miramas in France and Arjeplog in Sweden.
With the introduction of the two modules, as the test tracks are called, the BMW Group is presenting the initial results of its investment in the amount of EUR 300 million. The full introduction of the Sokol development centre into operation is planned for mid-2023, at which time the facility will employ more than 100 people. The new technology complex, which comprises a homologation site covering and area of approximately 90,000 m² with three separate starting lanes, will enable optimum testing of assistance systems and their behaviour in operation during various traffic situations. All tests are prepared and managed from the adjacent control room.
The six-kilometre Autonomous Driving Highway, a circuit with entrance and exit scenarios for testing autonomous vehicles in highway conditions, is located in the immediate vicinity of the new technology complex. The test highway has been equipped with two functional lanes and a lane for emergency stopping, as well as gantries and a straightaway section measuring more than 1,000 meters in length. Sokolov offers ideal conditions and suitable terrain for the BMW Group. “The reliable cooperation with the property owner, Sokolovská uhelná, and all political representatives is confirmation that our choice of the new location is the right one,” says Robert Thurner, head of the BMW Group’s property management department for Central and Eastern Europe.
At the new development centre, the BMW Group will continue with the development of promising fields such as electrification, digitalisation and autonomous driving. The development centre in the Karlovy Vary region is located approximately two and a half hours by car from the BMW Group’s main development facility, the Forschungs- und Innovationszentrum (Research and Innovation Centre).
CzechInvest assisted BMW with site selection and in negotiations on the placement of the investment in the Czech Republic. The project will play an important role in the transformation of the Karlovy Vary region and will help to create attractive job opportunities following the decline of coal mining in the region. A joint declaration on support for the construction project was signed by the Czech government and BMW in 2018.