Where GM 'beats the heck' out of cars

7:49 AM, Jan 29, 2013   |    comments
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It's a car lover's paradise, but a nightmare for the car, truck or SUV. The general motors proving ground in Milford, Michigan. Built in 1924, it was the first dedicated automotive testing faclity in the world. All model designs must pass through before moving on to a dealer.

"There's over 140 buildings on the compound, 150 something miles of track and it changes a lot," according to James Bell, GM's VP of Consumer Affairs. "You will have different buildings coming in and out depending on the new testing we're doing."

At this four-thousand acre facility, GM pounds a collective 15 million miles worth of driving and uses two and a half million gallons of gas a year.

"And so that's what we're really here to do is to say 'OK- we're gonna mathematically design the best vehicle we can'," according to Bell. "Now let's take it to the elements and conditions and and extreme conditions the way we know people use their vehicles and people count on their vehicles to get them through and to make sure they hold up." 

The proving ground starts off with potholes, an entire track of them, and then follows up with uneven terrain. It's then on to an ominous looking garage that delivers an eerie mist. "So the purpose of this test is simulate, basically, ten years of use and abuse by leaving a car parked near a coast," Bell explained. 

Another building contains a massive, manufactured ditch where vehicles go through flood testing. "It's also testing it for where the electronics are," according to Bell. "Today's cars obviously have a lot of those going on, so we're making sure all the components are keeping dry as well as the occupants."

And after all this, if the vehicle proves itself worthy, it's next test is getting sold.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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