July 15, 2024
GM’s Milford Proving Ground Merges Speed And Nature With 4 Lakes, 3-Mile Straight

Every automaker in the world that develops and builds its own products rather than just assemble rebadged vehicles has some sort of proving ground where it evaluates its future models. In the case of General Motors, that property is the world’s first dedicated automotive testing facility, which is among the largest and most comprehensive of such facilities in the global automotive industry. We can only imagine how difficult it is to get behind the walls of the Milford Proving Ground but a new article from The Detroit Free Press opens the doors to GM’s product development and durability testing center.

The secrecy of that place isn’t just a myth, though. Most General Motors employees have never been there and will never be. This is the site where every new GM product – be it global or only for North America – is being tested and pushed to its limits before it is approved for production. This is where the Chevrolet Corvette C8 was secretly developed and back in December 2021, even a Ford Mustang Mach-E was spotted there leaving the facility. The site, located about 45 miles northwest of Detroit, opened its doors nearly a century ago and currently has a track that replicates sections of the Nurburgring.

Even for those who have access to the Milford Proving Ground, it is not easy to tour the entire site. Most of the 4,900 employees there have just the basic Level 1 training, which allows them to drive only on the access roads and never get close to the actual test track and development facilities. Of General Motors’ around 81,000 salaried employees around the globe, just about 200 have the highest levels 4, 5 or 6 driving privileges to enter the more secret areas of the proving ground. If you happen to have Level 4 access, you can go as fast as 150 miles per hour around the test track. Level 5 and Level 6 employees can go even faster.

“It’s an automotive playground,” Keith Van Houten of the Milford Proving Ground told The Detroit Free Press. “All the latest cars are here. If you’re a car geek, it doesn’t get any better.” But it’s also a place where nature is at high respect and there’s even a dedicated environmental manager who takes care of all the lakes and forests in the area. “We’re here to provide for the next generation We’re borrowing this planet … you want to give it back a little better,” Brenda Korth, an environmental engineer at Milford Proving Ground, said.

The Detroit Free Press is launching a three-part series, which will take us behind the curtain of that proving ground.

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