WOLFSBURG -- The Volkswagen Group plans to add a proving ground for autonomous driving to its test track in Ehra-Lessien, Germany, Automotive News Europe sister publication Automobilwoche has learned from company sources.
German armed forces have abandoned a military training ground near the test facility, and the property is suited for the expansion.
"Volkswagen has a basic interest in the use of open spaces," a VW spokesman said, confirming the company's interest. But he didn't give details on the property's future use.
VW is negotiating with the Federal Authority for Real Property Administration, which administers the area, on the acquisition.
Despite a three-shift operation, the existing test track in Ehra-Lessien, in the state of Lower Saxony, is pushing the limits of its capacity. And now the company and its 12 brands are facing a large number of autonomous-driving tests.
The company's autonomous-driving trials are considered to be time-consuming; they also need space in and around closed-off locations to simulate public traffic.
VW could carry out adequate testing at a new proving ground without, for example, disrupting the operation of the high-speed train through Ehra-Lessien.
The German Association of the Automotive Industry estimates that the first self-driven vehicles will go into regular production in 15 years at the earliest.