WOLFSBURG, Germany — Volkswagen officials said Tuesday there will be a test track in Chattanooga along with their company’s new $1 billion assembly plant.
The test track likely will be at Enterprise South industrial park, near where the 1.9 million-square-foot plant will go up.
“I don’t want to get into specifics about how it will be used,” VW spokeswoman Jill Bratina said. “There are a lot of possibilities. It’s still in the early stages.”
The track will test the new mid-size sedan that VW officials have said will be built in Chattanooga, but it will not be a speed track, they said. The track also could serve as a location where buyers of the new vehicle could pick up the car and try it out.
VW officials have said the vehicle will be unique to the American market. Although no specific details about the new model have been given, they are expected to talk about the car today in Germany.
Ms. Bratina said the design of the $1 billion plant and the test track still are being finalized. She did not know the length of the track or how much it would cost, but she said VW already has a test track in Arizona, which sits on about 12,000 acres near Gila Bend outside Phoenix.
In Germany, the company has three test tracks in or around Wolfsburg, which is the world headquarters for the German automaker. There is a test track inside the huge manufacturing facility in Wolfsburg that the company has used for many years, said Christian Buhlmann of VW. But, he said, vehicles tested there never exceed 85 miles per hour.
“We had a need for a new test facility,” Mr. Buhlmann said.
The answer was Ehra-Lessien, which is about 15 miles away in a large wooded expanse that keeps away unwanted visitors in the highly competitive German auto industry. Vehicles can travel up to 250 miles per hour at Ehra-Lessien, and it has a six-mile straight section, Mr. Buhlmann said.
VW also has an off-road handling facility nearby, and it sometimes rents test locations, as it did Tuesday at the Oschersleben Motorpark about 40 miles southwest of Wolfsburg. The three-mile track there, used for both car and motorcycle racing, showed off the power of the company’s diesel Jetta vehicles, tweaked for competitive racing.
Kris Nissen, motor sport director for VW, said the company rapidly is increasing its racing activities worldwide.
“VW sells a lot of cars all over the world and races all over the world,” he said.
Mr. Nissen said the races are “a great opportunity to show on the race track how good the technology is.”
VW officials want work to start soon on the Chattanooga assembly plant, where it plans to produce about 200,000 cars a year when operational by early 2011.
Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...