This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Toyota Arizona Proving Grounds (TAPG). The facility lies in the heart of the Sonoran Desert, about 60 miles northwest of Phoenix in the USA. It is the company’s biggest vehicle testing facility and one of the largest of its kind in the world.
The facility, which opened in 1993, encompasses more than 12,000 acres and nearly 80 miles of testing surfaces. Almost every North American Toyota and Lexus model on the road today has been tested at TAPG.
With an average temperature of 75°F, TAPG provides consistent climate conditions with temperatures reaching as high as 120°F.
Jeff Makarewicz, group vice president of vehicle, quality and safety engineering, Toyota, said, “Quality is a high priority for Toyota, but as at all our facilities, safety is number one at TAPG.
“We take that very seriously, and don’t let testing schedules or deadlines compromise the safety of our engineers and technicians.”
The facility has gone nearly three years without any serious accidents. “Each and every day we’re committed to keeping this record while we continue to develop ever-better vehicles for our customers.”
Toyota’s remote desert outpost managed to spend the majority of its first decade in relative obscurity. Experts at the facility have been testing prototype and concept vehicles while quietly concealed from all but the occasional low-flying plane.
That anonymity began to change in the early 2000s when services like Google Earth began providing satellite images of virtually any place on the globe, including TAPG’s 10-mile high-speed oval track.
Driving training is also an important function at TAPG. Driver training has several levels of instruction, varying from basic driving skills on a few surfaces at highway speed to advanced training that qualifies drivers to operate on any of TAPG’s tracks at speeds limited only by the capabilities of the vehicle.
Specialized staff train students on mild to extremely difficult off-road driving – everything from simple dirt roads to narrow, technically challenging mountain trails and recovery operations.