The BMW Group celebrated the launch of its new test site in Sokolov (Czechia), the Future Mobility Development Center (FMDC). With Petr Očko, the Deputy Minister for Industry and Trade in Czechia, and Petr Kulhánek, the Governor of the Karlovy Vary region, in attendance, Ilka Hortsmeier, BMW Group’s Board Member for People and Real Estate, and Frank Weber, BMW Group’s Board Member for Development, officially opened the test site for fully automated development and test drives.
As the first development location of its kind in central Europe, the FMDC, in which 300 million euros have been invested, will play a key role in the company’s future mobility development. The former mining region has transformed into an innovation hub employing more than one hundred skilled workers. The surrounding terrain offers the best real-world conditions for testing of highly and fully automated driving and parking to supplement the virtual simulation of driving situations. Through this combination of virtual simulation and real-world testing, the BMW Group meets the highest safety requirements of its customers. The FMDC in Sokolov rounds out BMW’s existing group of test sites in Aschheim near Munich, Miramas in France, and Arjeplog in Sweden.
“With our new Future Mobility Development Center, we have created a one-of-a-kind test site, designed exclusively for the highly demanding testing of automated driving and parking up to level 4. On 600 hectares of land, we test all possible driving conditions with maximum flexibility and tremendous efficiency: city, countryside, freeway, as well as automated parking. The special thing: We can run our test modules one after the other without stopping. This makes our testing as realistic, reliable, and customer-oriented as possible,” said Frank Weber, BMW Board Member for Development.
The new test site not only enables the testing and further development of technological innovations, but also stands as an example of how the highest environmental protection and sustainability standards have been consistently integrated in concept and implemented. Throughout the planning and establishment of the proving ground, BMW worked in close cooperation with specialized ecological construction monitoring.
“Making mobility electric, digital, and sustainable goes beyond our vehicles at the BMW Group. We look at the entire value chain, including our own sites. Together with our partners, we were able to develop a former surface mine site here in Sokolov into a modern and efficient test site and create new, attractive jobs,” said Ilka Horstmeier, BMW Board Member for People and Real Estate. “The Future Mobility Development Center and its charging infrastructure are supplied with one hundred percent green electricity from renewable energy sources. This is another step toward the decarbonization of our sites globally.”
In addition to the use of green electricity, the site is equipped with an innovative water management system that systematically collects rainwater and uses it for track irrigation. The protection and promotion of the local biodiversity were also considered throughout the planning process: amphibian control systems were installed throughout the site to ensure the safe crossing of animals across the proving ground. 2.2 million cubic meters of soil previously excavated by nearby mining were used to build the site. Thus, no additional land was sealed, but rather an area that had lain fallow was recycled for forward-looking technological development.