|• Mayor||Jörg Böse (CDU)|
|• Total||56.08 km2 (21.65 sq mi)|
|Elevation||63 m (207 ft)|
|• Density||34/km2 (88/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)|
Volkswagen Group test track
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Volkswagen Group owns a test track facility in Ehra-Lessien, some 18 kilometres north of its Wolfsburg factory. The facility was built during the Cold War. The location was chosen because, at the time, it was in a no-fly zone only 10 kilometres west of the border between East Germany and West Germany, and thus secret prototypes could be tested out of sight of potential rivals.
The facility features 96 km (60 miles) of private tarmac, which includes a large variety of road surfaces and curves, used as test tracks to evaluate new and prototype vehicles. More significantly, there is a high speed circuit with a straight approximately 8.7 km (5.4 mi) long. Although the straight portion of the track is perfectly flat and level for the entire length, when standing at one end of the straight one cannot see the far end due to the curvature of the Earth. Banked corners at both ends of the circuit allow for a high entry and exit speed to and from the straight, and to increase average speed during the 20 km (12 mi) lap. The straight is especially useful for determining vehicle top speed, and is one of the few places on earth that the Bugatti Veyron or the McLaren F1 can reach their top speed.
Notably, the top speed of the Bugatti Veyron and the McLaren F1 were recorded along this straight. In episode 2 of Season 9, aired on 4 February 2007 on BBC Two's Top Gear, presenter James May reached 407.5 km/h (253.2 mph) in a Bugatti Veyron. In July 2010 a Bugatti Veyron Super Sport with 1,200 bhp (890 kW), reached 417.9 km/h (259.7 mph) while driven by James May, back at Ehra-Lessien again. However shortly after this, while being driven by Bugatti test driver Pierre Henri Raphanel, the vehicle recorded the production car world speed record at an average of 431.072 km/h (267.856 mph) (Top Gear Episode 5, Season 15). The facility also appeared on National Geographic Channel's Man-Made, in episodes about the Bugatti Veyron and Chiron.
On 2 August 2019, Bugatti used a specially modified Chiron and broke the top speed record for a production car, reaching 490.48 km/h (304.77 mph). The top speed was set by Andy Wallace and verified by the TUV (Germany’s Technical Inspection Association). Reportedly, Bugatti had spent the prior twelve months preparing for this new high speed record run. This high speed run is demonstrated on the Top Gear YouTube channel, on a video, posted on 2 September 2019.
- Landesamt für Statistik Niedersachsen, LSN-Online Regionaldatenbank, Tabelle 12411: Fortschreibung des Bevölkerungsstandes, Stand 31. Dezember 2019.
- "James May takes the Bugatti Veyron to its top speed at Ehra-Lessien". BBC.co.uk.
- Duff, Mike (2 September 2019). "Bugatti Chiron Passes 300-MPH Barrier with 304-MPH Run, Sets World Record". Car and Driver. Retrieved 2 September 2019.