On Monday, ground was broken at Willow Run in Ypsilanti Township, Michigan as construction starts on the “American Center for Mobility” – a future global facility which will allow automakers, government bodies, and academia to research, test, and develop connected and automated vehicle technologies, along with new mobility solutions.
Willow Run is a 335-acre site where B-24 “Liberator” bombers were built throughout World War II. Ford Motor Company constructed the bomber plant, using land on which Henry Ford himself had previously established a “teaching orchard” to benefit inner-city boys by introducing them to farming and living with nature. An apple tree was planted during Monday’s groundbreaking in a nod to the site’s history and “tradition of innovation, education and good stewardship,” said the Center’s President and CEO, John Maddox.
“We envision the American Center for Mobility as a global hub for connected and automated vehicle technologies supported by Michigan’s high concentration of automotive expertise,” Maddox says. “We are excited to be partnering with the state of Michigan to establish a fully-capable, real-world testing and innovation center that will be instrumental in putting self-driving cars on America’s roads.”
The 335-acre plot where the American Center for Mobility is to be constructed was purchased earlier this month for $1.2 million by Willow Run Arsenal of Democracy Landholdings Limited Partnership. It will be leased by the Center, and will be outfitted with garages, office space, and other amenities.