DaimlerChrysler AG’s Mercedes Car Group authorizes the first step in the expansion of the Mercedes-Benz Technology Center in Sindelfingen, Germany, clearing the way for construction of new climate tunnels and a driving simulator.

The test cells will be built at the “Mittelpfad South” area directly adjacent to the MTC and Sindelfingen plant, the auto maker says.

DC will invest about €100 million ($133 million) in the project over the next five years.

Thomas Weber, a member of the DC board of management, says the new investment in Sindelfingen will allow DC to intensify “the close integration between research, development, planning and production” there and improve competitiveness for the auto maker.

Pending the binding administrative approval of the “Mittelpfad South” development plan, construction of the new test rigs will begin in spring 2007. The expansion, which will be carried out in several phases, will be completed in the next decade, the auto maker says.