World's Largest Test Tracks: The Race Is On

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

Today, GM and its Chinese joint venture partner SAIC opened what GM China President Kevin Wale called “China’s largest proving ground.“ The test track west of Shanghai did cost about $252.5 million, Reuters says. Automakers are busy turning China into test track central, but Milford may be passed by a German track.

The 1,400-acre (560-hectare) project in Guangde County, Anhui province, is part of the $1.5 billion GM invests annually in China. While China’s largest, the track is dwarfed by GM’s more than 4,000-acre proving ground in Milford, Michigan.

The FAW-Volkswagen joint venture is building a test track in Changchunin northeastChina’sJilinprovince. When finished in 2014, this track will be the largest of its kind in China, says China Daily. It is expected to be twice the size of GM’s track near Shanghai. According to Beijing rumors, the track will be larger than Volkswagen’s gigantic home track in Ehra-Lessien near Wolfsburg. Ehra may not be eclipsed for long by its Chinese cousin. Volkswagen laid its eyes on the neighboring 4,200 acre military proving ground, currently used by the German army. All Volkswagen has to do is tear the fence down that separates its proving ground from the much larger military installation. The army will move by the end of 2013.

Meanwhile in the U.S.A., an only slightly used test track owned by Honda in the Mojave Desert went on sale in 2011. Last we checked, it had found no buyer.

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6 of 13 comments
  • El scotto El scotto on Sep 22, 2012

    Does Tire Rack use an old Studebaker test track in South Bend, IN?

  • Ronnie Schreiber Ronnie Schreiber on Sep 22, 2012

    You never know where there's going to be a test track. I was driving down Plymouth Road in Livonia and as I was going by the Ford transmission plant, I noticed there was some banking. When I got home I checked the satellite view and sure enough there's a paper clip shaped oval track that's about 4500 ft long. Then there are the rooftop test tracks. Fiat had one in Italy, Chrysler had one in Argentina and Imperia had one in Belgium. Apparently they're building an auto mall in Istanbule with a rooftop test track.

  • Windy Windy on Sep 23, 2012

    Ronnie, when did the camouflaged testing of future models on public roads start. I do not mean the use of test mules of putting the next models running gear under the current body which I guess has gone on almost from the birth of the industry . Rather the practice of covering prototype or preproduction items with a covering that makes working out what it will realy look like rather difficult . Cheers, Windy They say the memory is the second thing to go........

    • Ronnie Schreiber Ronnie Schreiber on Sep 23, 2012

      I have no idea, you'd have to ask someone like Jim Dunne or Brenda Priddy, car spy photographers. I see camo'd cars in my neighborhood all the time because the car companies and vendors test them for radio frequency interference because of all the tv and radio towers in the area. Actually, the other day on 696 I saw a very lightly covered Alfa Romeo CUV. They didn't even bother covering up the Alfa grille.

  • Blowfish Blowfish on Sep 23, 2012

    I read from engrish auto mag that FIAT used to have a roof top track on top of its factory building. anybody can elaborate on that? is all here. I guess most car manufacturers are really betting heavy in middle kingdom.

    • Ronnie Schreiber Ronnie Schreiber on Sep 23, 2012

      Fiat had a roof top track in Italy (it's still there, they just don't use it). The assembly line worked its way up the building and then they tested them on the roof. Chrysler had one in Argentina. The building is there but the track has been taken down. Imperia had one in Belgium that was half at ground level and half on the roof. The rooftop section is still there, the factory is long abandoned. More here: