The American Center for Mobility at Willow Run (ACM) features more than 500-acres and multiple test environments adjacent to the historic Willow Run Airport. ACM operates as a global center for testing and validation, education, product and standards development related to connected and automated vehicles. The facility is open to private industry, government, standards bodies, and academia.
ACM allows companies to lease office space, garages, and other amenities to conduct testing and research.
The American Center for Mobility is a joint initiative with the State of Michigan founded in partnership with the Michigan Department of Transportation, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the University of Michigan, Business Leaders For Michigan and Ann Arbor SPARK.
To enable the rapid, safe development and deployment of future transportation systems by offering leading programs in testing, standards, and education as a national technology innovation center.
The American Center for Mobility is recognized globally as the thought-leader and premier center for future transportation systems to improve public safety and advance equity of transportation for all.
ACM has a unique partnership model where companies have the opportunity to invest in ACM in order to facilitate the establishment of the facility and services in exchange for preferred access. Investors will leverage ACM to accelerate the development of connected and automated technologies. Their membership on our Industry Advisory Board plays a significant role in ACM’s strategic growth by providing vital input on improvements to the facility and services, voluntary standards, best practices and education programs.
Willow Run has a deep history of innovation and contributed significantly to the outcome of World War II. In 1940, both the US government and established aircraft manufacturers believed it impossible to build aircraft on an assembly line, and initially hoped The Ford Motor Company would help the war effort by handcrafting one airplane per day.
Ford’s chief manufacturing engineer, Charles Sorensen, believed assembly line production of airplanes was possible, and sketched a plan overnight in his California hotel room following a visit to Consolidated Aircraft Corp in San Diego, California where the original iteration of the B-24 Liberator was being built.
That plan became Willow Run, which included a major airport, a 5 million sq. ft. manufacturing plant designed by famed architect Albert Kahn, and a village for the workers, all rising from scratch on former farm fields in less than a year.
Aircraft production began in 1941, and at its peak during the war years, Willow Run produced B-24 Liberator bombers at the astounding rate of one airplane every 55 minutes!
War production at Willow Run also changed the local landscape.
The Detroit Industrial Expressway, known to most as I-94, was opened in 1942 to connect the new complex at Willow Run to Detroit. Willow Village was built adjacent to the plant, with hastily erected housing and infrastructure for 15,000 of the plant’s workers, a population greater than that of Ypsilanti’s at the time.
Willow Run also played a critical role in social change during an era of expanded opportunity for men and women. The facility required more than 42,000 workers, including an unprecedented percentage of women factory workers called Rosies. At the time it was noted as the largest factory under one roof in the world, offered equal pay for equal work and firmly laid the groundwork for sweeping social change.
Following World War II, the plant was used by the then newly formed, independent automaker Kaiser-Frazer before being purchased by General Motors in 1953. The third automaker to own the plant used the facility to make transmissions.
In 2003 GM renovated the plant in order to produce a new 6-speed rear-wheel drive automatic transmission until it was closed in 2010.
To learn more about the historic Willow Run, please visit http://yankeeairmuseum.org/