Chrysler LLC dedicated its new Arizona Proving Ground (APG) with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, Nov. 2. The Chrysler facility, located on the former Ford proving ground lands in Yucca, Ariz., represents a $34.9 million capital investment. Chrysler will make an additional $10 million in facility upgrades.
"This is an important day for the future of our vehicle testing and development programs and for the continued competitiveness of these Chrysler operations," said Byron Kearney, Chrysler Vice President -- Scientific Laboratories and Proving Grounds. "The new Chrysler Arizona Proving Ground is an important investment which will support our product development goals."
On hand for the ribbon-cutting ceremony were Kearney, Vinnie Pagano, International UAW Representative, Jan Lesher from the Arizona Department of Commerce, Kingman Mayor Les Byram and Mohave County Chairman Pete Byers.
Chrysler will expand the new facility by building a new 70-foot-high test grade, along with several new test road surfaces. The APG is scheduled to open during the second quarter of 2008. The Proving Ground will create approximately 75 jobs ranging in scope from engineering positions, mechanics and project management opportunities. The 3,840-acre facility will eventually operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
At the testing facility, vehicles under development and validation will be driven more than a million miles a year on muddy roads, twisted asphalt, and on a high-speed, five-mile oval track. The extreme conditions also include corrosion testing, water testing and salt immersion - all which are part of Chrysler's rigorous testing requirements for quality.
The 3,840-acre test site also includes the following: A fully flat 17-acre vehicle dynamics area; a low-friction facility that duplicates the friction characteristics of ice and wet asphalt; checkerboard tile and brushed concrete; and two 4,400-foot straightaways. Engineers use the testing areas to develop and fine-tune a vehicle's ride and handling characteristics and to validate the braking system.
The APG will test approximately 2,000 vehicles a year.
"This is great news for Mohave County, and it's proof that Chrysler's investment is helping to create new opportunities for the region's hardworking men and women," said Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano. "Here, and across Arizona, more and more companies are finding a business climate that suits their needs and helps them grow and succeed."
"This project speaks volumes about the importance of investing in Arizona's businesses and people," said Byram. "By choosing to expand in Kingman and Mohave County, Chrysler has injected tens of millions of dollars into the local economy, which will help the entire area."
Chrysler originally owned and continues to operate a proving ground facility in Wittmann, Ariz. Chrysler's Wittmann facility was sold to Toll Brothers/Meritage Homes, a real estate development company, in December 2005. Chrysler is leasing the facility until mid 2008.
The Yucca (Arizona) Proving Ground was owned by Ford Motor Company from 1954 until October 2007. Ford announced that it was selling the Proving Ground in January 2006 and Chrysler completed the sale on October 23, 2007.
Chrysler is currently working out the staffing details for the new facility. Final staffing plans will be determined based upon testing requirements to support future product development plans.
In addition to announcing the APG investment, The Chrysler Foundation demonstrated its commitment to the Mohave County community by presenting a $5,000 check to Kingman High School at the dedication ceremony. The funds will support the school's FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics program and its Arizona Tech Prep Career and Technical Education program. Each curriculum will receive $2,500.