The ex-Holden Lang Lang proving ground has officially been re-listed for sale for a second time in 12 months after its owner, Vietnamese automaker VinFast, pulled the pin on Australian development.
In a notice published by commercial real estate group Coldwell Banker Richard Ellis (CBRE) on behalf of VinFast, it says the proving ground is being “offered for sale with vacant possession”.
CBRE local directors and agents, Dean Hunt and Stephen Adgemis have been tasked with running an expressions of interest campaign that’ll end on November 18 if the proving ground isn’t sold beforehand.
“The Lang Lang proving ground is one of the most-advanced facilities of its type in the world, with an expansive road network and improvements including a dedicated emissions-testing facility,” said Mr Adgemis.
“It holds a unique place in Australian motoring history, and the fundamentals that made it so successful for General Motors (GM) and Holden, and attracted VinFast to the property, still ring true.”
On offer is 877 hectares (2167 acres) of land that boasts a total of 44km of testing tracks, including sealed and unsealed roads, a 4WD course, a skid pad, as well as the legendary NASCAR-style, banked high-speed bowl.
There’s also a total of 11,920 square metres of buildings including laboratories, as well as testing, storage and office facilities.
This historic facility, first opened in 1957, played a key role in the development of locally-manufactured Holden models dating back to the FC series of 1958.
It also was used by GM to test vehicles from its North American brands Cadillac and Chevrolet.
CarExpert understands GM Specialty Vehicles and Walkinshaw Automotive Group are able to use the facilities for testing of their vehicles.
The proving ground and testing facilities were purchased by VinFast in late 2020 for more than $36 million after receiving around $16 million of renovations to facilities in 2018.
These renovations included an $8.7 million investment to install an emissions testing lab and to renovate and upgrade buildings, along with a $7.2 million program to repave the banked test track.
The Lang Lang proving ground is located an hour south-east of the Melbourne CBD between the towns of Lang Lang and Grantville, just off the Bass Highway.
Since it was opened in 1957, the Lang Lang proving ground has apparently been sealed off to the outside world and reportedly harbours endangered animal species, as well as flora and fauna.
A local environmental group called “Save The Holden Bushlands” protested the previous sale of the proving grounds in 2020 over concerns that the land would be used for development or mining purposes.
The group apparently still continues its push for the Victorian Government to purchase the land, but it’s uncertain what this latest sales listing will throw into the mix.
This current listing of the Lang Lang proving ground is the latest step in VinFast’s pivot to North America and Europe.
“Due to unexpected situations brought about by COVID-19, we have to relocate our operation back to Vietnam to ensure product development progress,” said a VinFast representative.
“In the long-term future, VinFast still considers Australia as one of its strategic markets.”
Earlier in 2021, the company closed its Australian design and engineering office in Port Melbourne where it had hired 100 ex-Ford, Holden, Jaguar Land Rover and Toyota employees.
Its original aim was to develop the company’s next-generation petrol and all-electric vehicles in Australia.
Still a fresh face on the automotive scene, VinFast was founded in 2017 by property developer Phạm Nhật Vượng, who is Vietnam’s first billionaire with a net worth of around $6.5 billion.
The company is a spin-off from its parent company VinGroup which was in fact founded as an instant noodle business in post-Soviet Ukraine.
According to the company’s CEO, ex-Volkswagen and Opel executive Michael Lohscheller, and reported by Reuters, the company is looking to open 60 U.S showrooms in 2022.
VinFast is also planning to begin rolling out its EVs into European markets such as France, Germany and the Netherlands during 2022.
Lohscheller is currently responsible for scaling up the company’s operations and presence around the globe, and is also tasked with turning VinFast into a “global smart electric car company”.