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Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has opened a 265 hectare test track for self-driving vehicles near Zalaegerszeg, in southwest Hungary.

Orbán said at the event on Monday that in the wake of a series on European crises, preserving the country’s identity, protecting its security and boosting competitiveness were priorities. “These things are, in Hungarian minds, interconnected: protecting our identity and borders is of a piece with the European way of life, the European economic model and the protection of the world’s largest single market,” Orbán said.

Regarding the test track which the government has funded with a 45 billion forint (EUR 137.9m) grant, Orbán said “the future has started, it is called digital economy”. The Zalaegerszeg investment is “one of the first tickets Hungary has bought into that future,” he said. Orbán said he expected the Zalaegerszeg centre to grow into a regional hub “with maybe a European radius”. It is a national interest that the 620 car manufacturing companies active in Hungary think of the country not simply as a production site but as a development hub, an opportunity to gain a competitive edge, he said.