Corporate / Design & Technology
Roads less traveled: vehicle testing in the Mojave Desert March 27th, 2014
About 100 miles north of Los Angeles, in the Mojave Desert, sit the final testing grounds, where every Kia vehicle must receive the stamp of approval before mass production. At the Hyundai-Kia California Proving Grounds, located in California City, stretching over an area of about 4,300 acres, our next-generation vehicles are tested to their absolute limits, until we’re certain they are suitable for even the most extreme weather conditions. So what does it take to be an approved Kia vehicle?
Although all vehicles are tested for engine and air conditioning system reliability in specially controlled hot chambers, the vehicles are once again tested at the California Proving Grounds because the Mojave Desert provides the most ideal environment, with temperatures reaching up to 39°C (about 102 °F)
We test on multiple types of roads to ensure that we’ve covered almost any type of scenario that our vehicles might face. The extended uphill road was created with an inclination angle between 2 and 12% to test the hill-climbing ability and the Automatic Cruise Control System. On the multi-purpose road, shaped like an open fan, vehicles go through a variety of tests that test for vehicle stability, brake performance and ride and handling.
The endurance test road replicates more than ten different types of road surfaces, making sure that all vehicles have been roughened up enough to take on any type of terrain. This test road is so rigorous that it tests vehicle wear and tear to the equivalent of 60,000 miles (96,000 km) when driven for just 10,000 miles (16,000 km). It makes sense that every single vehicle must survive the endurance test track before it can be mass produced.
The handling test road is made up of sharp winding roads, ensuring optimum drivability of vehicles on the mountainous U.S. road system and testing how responsive the handling is on all the vehicles. The straight road is the hottest in all of the Mojave Desert, with a sensory temperature that reaches up to 90 degrees Celsius. In addition to this straight road, we also have a separate extreme condition materials testing facility which exposes both cars and their various components to scorching hot temperatures and blistering sunlight to prove their integrity. Those that fail to pass this test never see the light of day and are sent back for further improvement.
Roaring engines and screeching tires are the norm at our Proving Grounds, and while the testing can’t exactly be kept a secret, we do make an effort to keep things on the down-low in the Mojave—after all, it’s all these tests that determine which vehicles make the final cut.
Every Kia out in the market right now (even yours!) has gone through all of these tests before having the privilege of sitting in your driveway. Now, isn’t that reassuring?