Volkswagen Opens New Technical Center in California
Volkswagen has opened its $27m technical center in California to expand its engineering capabilities.
The test center in Oxnard, 62 miles north of Los Angeles, will initially be staffed by 50 VW engineers and technicians, with an additional 250 from the Group’s Audi, Bentley, Bugatti and Lamborghini brands added later, the automaker said in a statement.
Testing for Porsche, which recently was bought by the Volkswagen Group, also will be conducted in the facility.
Engineers at the Oxnard facility will serve as the final stop for many Volkswagen products before they are approved for production. The multimillion-dollar facility has a climactic chamber where automobiles will be put through varying weather conditions that range from minus 30 degrees Celsius to 40 degrees.
The climate-controlled emissions lab also has a wind speed blower with a top speed of 100 mph and humidity controls from 0 percent to 100 percent. The capability to mimic climate situations also allows testing for vehicles that would be sold in Europe and Japan, said Rick Vasquez, lab operations team leader.
The facility will feature an array of 2,500, 430-kilowatt solar panels that will reduce energy costs by nearly one-third. Coupled with other energy-efficient technologies, the goal is to be one of the most environmentally friendly automobile testing laboratories in the world. The test center is currently undergoing the "Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design" (LEED) certification process. These energy savings come despite a nearly 25,000 square-foot increase in space in comparable facilities, with the built-in flexibility to expand an additional 14,000 square-feet within the existing footprint to meet growing business demands.
The Oxnard facility is part of a US$4bn program aimed at boosting VW’s market share in the US.
VW-brand sales are up 34% this year following the opening last year of its US$1bn assembly plant in Tennessee which makes the new Passat sedan.
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