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Our Mission

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.

Our Vision

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.

A Collaborative Approach to Mobility Innovation

Comprised of government, industry and academic organizations, American Center for Mobility is focused on accelerating the mobility industry through research, testing, standards development and educational programming.

Located in Southeast Michigan on over 500-acres at the historic Willow Run site in Ypsilanti, ACM offers:

The American Center for Mobility is open to private industry, start-ups, government, standards bodies, and academia.

Accelerate the research, development, test and validation process of mobility products and technologies in a safe and re-configurable environment

Support industry standardization and policy requirements of mobility products and technologies

Empower talent development through education and immersion with mobility products and technologies

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.

University of MichiganBusiness Leaders of MichiganMichigan Department of TransportationAnn Arbor SparkMichigan Economic Development Corporation

Our History

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!

Riveting a center wing section for a B-24E (Liberator) bomber in the horizontal position at Ford’s big Willow Run plant. National Archives and Records Administration, 196387.

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