History and Facilities
After heading the Detroit Arsenal’s test facility at Camp Bullis near San
Antonio, Texas, Henry C. Hodges moved to the Carson City area in 1957 and
started the Nevada Automotive Test Center as a division of Hodges Transportation
Inc. The site was chosen based on a 1950s Corps of Engineers study which
indicated that nearly all of the terrain types found around the world could be
accurately represented in northwest Nevada.
Based on its years of experience with on- and off-highway vehicle performance
testing, NATC has designed an efficient and productive facility for total
vehicle evaluation. NATC's location is uniquely suited to such testing and
provides terrain types found throughout the world. Terrain analogs have been
established for representative areas in Turkey, Israel, and other locations in
the Middle East; China, Indonesia, Pakistan, Malaysia and other areas in the Far
East; and terrain representative of the North German Plain and central Europe.
These areas are all within the contiguous test boundaries of NATC. The amount
and variation of terrain is extensive, and virtually any required terrain
configuration can be simulated naturally without major construction cost.
course conditions are controlled to provide year-round consistent and repeatable
Within a 60-mile radius of the NATC Proving Ground are major interstate
highways, state highways, cross-country trails, deserts, and the peaks of the
Sierra Nevada mountain range. Sahara, sub-Sahara, Alpine, River Delta, Tundra,
Coral, and Savannah test areas are found in this region. There is easy access to
Death Valley, 14,000-foot Mt. Whitney, Pacific Ocean beaches, and the wilderness
areas of northern California, northern Nevada, southern Idaho, and southeastern
NATC’s 1.8 mile WesTrack facility, funded by the Federal Highway
Administration is established to evaluate experimental asphalt pavement designs,
accelerated test and measurement systems, and tire pavement interface
characteristics. This facility has supported fully autonomous operations of
150,000 pound commercial tractor trailers (over 825,000 miles) and serves as a
platform for validation of new Intelligent Transportation System concepts.
Utilizing the technology developed in house for these driverless vehicles, NATC
provides vehicle health monitoring systems that allow non-intrusive measurement
of vehicles in fleet or customer service.
Local elevations range from 3,900 to 11,000 feet on the western slope of the
Sierra Nevada mountain range, and local temperature extremes can average a 70°F
differential from desert test areas to mountain test areas. Within one 24-hour
period, 50°F temperature differentials can provide stable test conditions at
both low and high levels for thermal response studies.
These extremes in terrain and temperature allow testing under conditions
similar to those which exist in many parts of the world as formidable obstacles
to wheeled and tracked vehicles.
Our dedicated fabrication facility (NFAST) is equipped and staffed to provide
complete prototype fabrication and modification for all types of ground vehicle
systems. Our team has developed and delivered specialized test equipment
including mobile dynamometers, environmental test chambers and fully
instrumented vehicles. We have built advanced vehicle prototypes incorporating
state of the art technologies required for success in the new millennium.