Volkswagen Group of America will be developing more high-technology for its vehicles out of California.

The company celebrated yesterday the grand opening of its new $27 million Test Center California (TCC) product development and emissions test laboratory in Oxnard, Calif.

The 64,000-square-foot facility is expected to be fully operational this fall and will employ 50 people with plans to continue to grow over the coming years.

The Test Center California represents the latest step in the Volkswagen Group’s $4 billion growth strategy for the U.S. market, which includes an investment of more than $100 million in California. The Oxnard facility will be the only Volkswagen Group research and development center of its kind in North America with a primary focus on powertrain and systems development, governmental compliance and field quality testing.

Engineers at the TCC will continue to play a pivotal role in the integration of engine development into the product development process, acting as the final stop before vehicles are approved for production.

“This state-of-the-art facility is where engineering, powertrain development, emissions testing, and quality come together to ensure the Volkswagen Group continues to deliver the best German-engineered products in the market today and in the years to come.” said David Geanacopoulos, executive vice president, General Counsel for Volkswagen Group of America at the ceremony.

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 development center will feature an emissions test laboratory, parts analysis capabilities, a vehicle workshop with more than 16 in-ground lifts, and a dealer service and training center. In addition, the facility will add extensive office and meeting areas to accommodate approximately 50 TCC team members and more than 250 Volkswagen Group engineers and partners who are expected to make the trip to Oxnard each year to conduct myriad testing projects.

“The expansion of our global R&D footprint in the U.S. reinforces our ongoing commitment to this market and will help to position us as a high quality brand here and abroad,” continued Geanacopoulos. “With a firm commitment to innovation and quality, teams like the one at the TCC will ensure we not only achieve our objectives, but exceed them.”

The facility will support several Volkswagen Group brands including Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche, Bentley, and Bugatti.