Daimler’s Lothar Ulsamer has set his eyes on a washing facility for armored howitzers in the Black Forest, Germany, to build here a testing ground for Mercedes luxury vehicles.
Ulsamer has been searching for such a site near the automaker’s headquarters in Stuttgart and this army base located at Immendingen has been the perfect match. While German soldiers prepare to leave the base, Daimler has already started talks for the purchase of the 500-hectare (1,236-acre) site. The base will be transformed into auto shops, the training ground will serve as a test track and the shooting range will become a tunnel for testing car headlights.
“A military plot is ideal,” Ulsamer, Daimler’s head of regional projects, said by phone. Converting agricultural land or empty countryside often meets resistance from farmers and environmentalists, he said. “Military conversions are easy to get through the political process.”
As Germany’s armed forces are scaled back, soldiers are expected to vacate around 143 square miles (370 square kilometers) of land in the following five years. This move will give investors and automakers, such as Daimler, the possibility to purchase sites for luxury homes, factories or energy-generating solar panels.
Daimler’s deal is expected to move quite fast as the company told Immendigen’s mayor about its intention to buy the property back in 2010, before the departure of the troops was announced. In 2012 BMW has also purchased part of the Crown Prince Rupprecht Barracks located in Munich, where it wants to build an R&D center.
Photographer: Sean Gallup/Getty Images