Originally opened in 1966, Opel’s Dudenhofen Test Center was renovated this year as part of a 28.5 million euro investment. The facility now contains an all-new traffic control system for the entire proving ground, new tracks for testing transmission and driving dynamics at Formula 1 levels, as well as a near-identical copy of a public street, including a city-driving course. The updates will allow the test center to carry out nearly every driving profile imaginable.
The single-largest investment of the renovation, a whopping 10 million of the 28.5 million euros, was devoted to updating the facility’s high-speed circuit. The centerpiece of the Test Center now sports world-class test and sensor technology, with the sensors located in the surface of the high-speed circuit while control and measurement technology has received the full electrification treatment. What may be most exciting to automotive enthusiasts, however, is that the angle of the banking was increased from 37.5 degrees to 40 degrees, allowing cars to drive safely at 150 MPH (250 KPH) around a test track without experiencing any lateral forces.
And Opel isn’t stopping there, as it will continue to develop the Test Center through 2012 by building new tracks to test pass-by noise and to calibrate new engines.
“The opening of the high-speed circuit is a milestone for our Test Center”, said Mike Ableson, Opel vice president of Engineering, during the opening ceremony. “This is a clear sign of our commitment to the long-term future of our development facilities in Germany. The extensions are a significant contribution to further increasing the quality of our products, and bringing affordable innovations to our customers fast”.
The real value of the updates to the Test Center will be seen in final vehicles delivered to the customer, as it’s highly important for automakers such as GM and Opel to test the prototypes of future models to the last nut and bolt under strictly-controlled conditions, functions that the renovated Test Center is capable of carrying out. Sure, Dudenhofen is no Guangde Proving Ground, but it’s a proving ground nonetheless. And we’re sure that Chevys (oh, and Vauxhalls, too) will share the proving ground space with Opels.
Commemorating the renovations, a 1966 Opel Rekord was joined by the world record-breaking Eco Speedster, which set 17 international records at Dudenhofen in 2003, for a symbolic parade lap of the high-speed circuit. What we would have given to follow in an Astra OPC.