Connected Vehicle Research Center Planned on Site of Former Willow Run Powertrain Plant

A consortium led by Ann Arbor SPARK that includes RACER Trust, Devon Industrial Group, and Walbridge Development, today announced that the former Willow Run Powertrain plant is the proposed home for a technologically advanced connected vehicle research center.  This project could become a hub of research and development for the vehicles of tomorrow and a catalyst for jobs in innovative automotive research.

Based on input that Ann Arbor SPARK solicited from private and public sector experts, the connected vehicle research center will be a place where precautionary testing is done before vehicles are deployed on the road and a proving ground for collaborative safety technology demonstrations.  It will also serve as a high technology research and development facility that will allow companies to lease space for office and research use, garages, and other amenities, ultimately expanding the region’s business incubation and acceleration capabilities around automotive technology.

Of the news, Paul Krutko, Ann Arbor SPARK president and CEO, said: “SPARK’s role as the regional economic development organization is to look for opportunities big and small to build prosperity. We identified automotive technology as a key area of potential and earlier this year drafted a white paper, Ahead By A Century – A Proposal to Develop A World Class Test Facility for Intelligent Transportation Systems and Autonomous Vehicles in Southeast Michigan, based on our findings. Working initially with Walbridge, RACER Trust and Ypsilanti Township, and longer term with other private- and public-sector partners, Ann Arbor SPARK is creating this new economic opportunity for the region that has the potential to generate significant investment and jobs.”

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