General Motors Brazil Proving Ground – Cruz Alta, Indaiatuba, São Paulo, Brazil
The General Motors Cruz Alta proving ground, officially known as CPCA for Campo de Provas da Cruz Alta (High Cross Proving Ground), is a GM vehicle testing and validation facility located in the city of Indaiatuba, in São Paulo, Brazil.
- Year opened: July 15, 1974
- Operations: vehicle testing and validation
- Facility size: over 11 million m2
- 7 technical laboratories
- 16 test tracks
Estr. Gen. Motors
Indaiatuba – SP
- Telefone: +55 19 3934-4297
- Employee information: TBD
The GM Cruz Alta proving ground tests General Motors vehicles and vehicle components developed by GM Brazil for markets in South America, Central America, and other emerging markets.
The facility is the biggest automotive proving ground in the Southern Hemisphere of planet earth and GM’s second most complete, behind the Milford Proving Ground in Michigan. CPCA’s primary purpose is to facilitate the development and validation of a vehicle to ensure it can resist the most varied driving conditions, including different types of pavement, climate, and traffic throughout its life cycle.
Today, many vehicle tests are simulated on computers, as such tests are faster and more economical. Even so, real-world, on-road tests are irreplaceable in order to validate what has been tested virtually. This is the process that is responsible for ensuring that an automaker deliver a quality car. On the other hand, the processes also prolongs the time it takes for a vehicle to reach the market.
Having invested more than $120 million in its Brazil proving ground since its inception in 1974, GM conducts about 16,000 tests per year at the facility. What’s more, CPCA performs engineering services not only for products sold in Brazil, But also for products sold in other countries, particularly markets that have similar economic conditions and hence automotive economies as Brazil.
The GM Brazil proving ground has seven laboratories, each adhering to international standards.
The facilities are continuously used throughout the vehicle development process. The only labs that CPCA does not have is the wind tunnel and the electromagnetic interference laboratory for full-size vehicles.
The seven laboratories housed within the facility include:
- Emission Analysis Laboratory: the first laboratory installed in CPCA, the emissions lab analyses solutions to reduce gas emissions. As of 2014, a car pollutes an average 30 times less than one from the late 1980s.
- Vehicle Safety Laboratory: one of the most modern of its type in the world, CPCA’s Safety lab is the only one in South America with the capabilities to test and validate vehicles according to European, Japanese and American standards of pedestrian protection in case of a collision with a pedestrian.
- Noise and Vibration Laboratory: identifies noises or vibrations that may be irritating or cause discomfort to passengers. If a particular component does not meet GM’s stringent quality standards, it is reworked physically or chemically. This development occurs both before and after the model is put into production, following the policy of continuous improvement practiced by GM. The semi-anechoic chamber where the acoustic measurements are made has walls that are 1 meter thick and floors built on dampers, preventing interference from the external environment.
- Structural Testing Laboratory: tests the durability of the bodywork in addition to the components of the vehicle that are subjected to repetitive use, such as the door lock system and the window raise/lower controls. Tasks are carried out by robots that perform the same operation more than 100,000 times, uninterrupted.
- To ensure that a car works in the most adverse climate conditions, a chamber can change temperature from -40ºC to +85ºC
- Passive safety items are also examined with static tests that analyze the seats and seat belts
- A multiaxial simulator features four hydraulic pillars attached to the suspension system that reproduce the torsional movements that the vehicle would be subjected to if it were traveling on uneven floors
- Air Conditioning, Ventilation and Cooling Development Laboratory: aids in the development of a car’s cooling system, which needs to be efficient both in low airfow situations, such as in traffic, as well as when there is an excess amount of air, such as on highways. A fan capable of generating winds of up to 120 km / h is one of the tools used.
- When testing pre-production vehicles, if the tests point to dynamic failures, the designer is required to change the design by increasing the size of the front grille or changing the body work so as to improve airflow.
- The validation of the air-conditioning system takes place in a climatic chamber. Since some Chevrolet models are exported to countries with very hot weather, the unit is capable of raising external temperature to +55° C.
- Electronics Lab: validate’s that a vehicle’s numerous electronic systems are capable of working together for the entire expected life of the vehicle.
- A vehicle’s sound system is also developed and validated here. Engineers choose the placement of the speakers within the vehicle and perform comparative tests to determine which antenna best fits the vehicle application.
- Prior to the inauguration of this lab, almost all of this work was performed abroad, adding time and cost to the development process.
- Vehicle Dynamics Laboratory: uses sophisticated measurement equipment to analyze, with extreme precision, the behavior of the car’s chassis, including the suspension system, tires and wheels. Data derived from this lab give engineers data in order to optimize the vehicle for the highest levels of comfort and safety, depending on the model and the consumer preference.
The GM Brazil proving ground has 16 test tracks totaling a cumulative length of 42.2 km, delivering a simulation for virtually every situation a vehicle can face during its lifecycle. Driving 40,000 kilometers on the various tracks within the facility is the equivalent of 150,000 km for a normal consumer.
The test tracks available within the facility include:
- Accelerated Durability: a dirt road primarily used to test bodywork, structural components, transmission and clutch mechanisms. This was the first track of the Campo de Prova Cruz Alta (High Cross Proving Grounds).
- Level Straight: evaluates brake systems, engine cooling, fuel consumption, noise and vibration and vehicle performance. The track is composed of two perfectly straight parallel lines of 2,400 meters long by 7 meters wide, joined by two curves with inclinations ranging from 10 percent (internal band) to 30 percent (external).
- Dust: evaluates a vehicle’s body seals and the efficiency of the air filter and other components. The vehicle being tested follows another one, which raises dust clouds on the 2,900-meter circuit.
- Durability D1: reproduces normal vehicle use under severe conditions. To do this, the track has a variety of pavement types, including smooth, irregular, rough asphalt with holes and with paving stones. A section known as “sawmill has slopes and steep slopes, built for suspension, steering and tire tests. This track also tests the engine, rear axle, clutch, brake and body parts. It is widely used for subjective evaluations, including suspension behavior.
- Durability D2: this extremely severe course tests the structural deterioration of the vehicle and its components in a short period of time. The track has holes, uneven asphalt, “cow ribs”, bumps and concrete with a texture similar to “alligator skin”.
- Torture: tests a vehicle’s structural integrity. The track is limited to cars traveling 20 km/h, since the surface is full of square and irregular “turtles” and holes arranged at different angles.
- Corrosion: tests a vehicle’s resistance to corrosion. There are several parts to this test, including salt water, pebbles and humidity chamber. The car is subjected to the desired atmosphere, with a temperature of +38º C and 100 percent humidity, thereby accelerating the corrosive action, with three months in the chamber equating to a five-year exposure to bad weather in coastal regions.
- Circle: measures fuel consumption, maximum speed, and provides certification for the vehicle’s exhaust system. This track, in particular, typically attracts a lot of attention from visitors since it looks like an oval Formula Indy circuit. The circle track allows the car to travel in circles at 160 km / h without the driver turning the wheel, thereby delivering an infinite line. This is made possible by the degree of the track’s slope, which reaches 56 degrees and has a diameter of 1,400 meters.
- External Noise and Side Acceleration: used to determine whether the level of noise produced by the contact of the tires with the asphalt meets internationally-required technical standards. The track is coated with a special granular asphalt layer. Here, engineers also evaluate external noises produced by the vehicle, the maximum lateral acceleration that the car can withstand, and the minimum amount that a steering wheel must be turned in order to change the direction of a vehicle.
- Off-Road: tests a vehicle’s ability to go off-road. The track represents consists of an unpaved road with obstacles with a high degree of difficulty, such as large rocks and logs, steep ramps, deep ditches, and a mud area with a large lateral slope.
- Urban Traffic: designed to test a vehicle’s steering and cooling systems by simulating the traffic situations of big cities. The track is a flat, paved surface with lanes marked in the shape of curves.
- Internal Noises: driving on different kinds of surfaces and different types of pavement causes different sounds and vibrations inside the vehicles, and this track is meant to measure just that. The circuit is comprised of five sections, each 500 meters in length, with a different surface such as flat asphalt, concrete with stone, rough asphalt, concrete with grooves and intermediate asphalt. There is also a 700 meter section for acceleration. Driving on an uneven road helps analyze a vehicle’s structural noises, while driving on a totally smooth road enables engineers to measure wind and tire noise.
- Ramps: used to test braking, clutch operation, and climbing capability. The course contains two ramps, one with a 20 degree slope, and the other with 30 degrees. The course is also used for any type of test that requires sharp slopes or inclines.
- Black Lake (Vehicle Dynamics Testing Area): used to develop and validate a vehicle’s ABS brakes, electronic stability and traction control systems, steering tires and suspensions. The 120,000 m² area is named Black Lake due to the color of the asphalt, since it looks like a large black lake from the sky, especially when wet for stability tests. The track has irrigation systems and areas paved with polished granite of low and medium coefficients of friction There is also a 1,200 meter-long acceleration section for tests that require high speed.
The GM Brazil proving ground follows GM’s globally-established principles of sustainability. The facility undertakes several agricultural activities, including the cultivation of macadamia and maize — producing an estimated 100 and 300 tons per year, respectively. This helps provide income, thereby balancing out maintenance maintenance costs and the costs of the facility’s environmental projects.
The CPCA land has various areas of permanent preservation totaling 2,255,000 m². More than 500,000 tree seedlings, including native species, have been planted since 1972.
In addition, all water consumed by the facility comes from semi-artesian wells and all sewage generated on site is collected and treated.
- Celebrated 40th anniversary in July 2014