BMW to Build New Proving Ground

Representatives of the BMW Group, the Czech government and the Karlovary Vary region announced construction of a new proving ground today in Prague. The roughly 500-hectare property will be developed in Sokolov in the Karlovary Vary region, close to the German border town of Waldsassen and about two-and-a-half hours’ drive from the BMW Group’s main development site, the Research and Development Centre (FIZ), in Munich.

BMW will invest over 100 million euros ($118 million) on a test track for self-driving and electric cars in the Czech Republic, as it expands its foray into alternative driving technologies.

The new BMW proving ground, which will create several hundred jobs, is slated to go into operation early in the next decade. Total investment will be in the three-digit million-euro range.

Dr. Herbert Grebenc, BMW AG, Human Resources, Senior Vice President Real Estate Management, Corporate Security, stated at the announcement in Prague: “The BMW Group is at the vanguard of technology. As an innovation driver, we aim to offer customers the best, most emotional mobility experience and create digital connections between people, vehicles and services. At the planned proving facility in Sokolov, we will continue to advance ground-breaking topics, such as electrification, digitalization and automated driving – for example, through safety-testing for assistance systems.”

Projects at the 500-hectare (1,200-acre) Sokolov site near the German border, picked out of 82 potential locations, will include the testing of driver-assistance and braking systems, Grebenc said.

NHTSA Investigates Reports of Ford Focus Steering Wheels Detaching

AutoNews reports the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched an investigation into 814,000 2014-2016 Ford Fusion models over reports that the steering wheel can become detached from the steering column while the car is in motion, according to a document posted to the NHTSA website this week.

There are countless critical systems in your car that you absolutely do not want to fail while you’re driving, but the steering wheel has to be near the top of the list. The official investigation comes after three separate Ford Fusion owners reported their steering wheels coming loose during normal driving. In one instance, reported last month, the wheel completely detached from the steering column and fell into the driver’s lap.

Fortunately, that latest incident happened as the driver was turning into a gas station, and no accidents or injuries tied to the defect have been reported. The agency will now examine the scope of the problem to determine whether a formal recall needs to be initiated.
Ford is in the midst of a spate of recalls involving other models, including 1.3 million 2015-2017 F-150 and Super Duty trucks whose door latches could fail thanks a faulty seal. Ford had previously announced plans to spend almost $1 billion on recalls announced since August of 2016.