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LOCKE TOWNSHIP, MI-A division of TRW Automotive plans to build an automotive test track on a 262-acre parcel in this Ingham County township. Kelsey-Hayes Co. plans to open the track as early as fall 2006. The company is also moving a manufacturing and office facility in Wixom.

The TRW Automotive Vehicle Development Center in the township will be a commuter track with no permanent employees in its earliest phases, but is expected to eventually employ more than a dozen full-time engineers and track technicians. The track will allow for testing of up to 24 vehicles in dynamic maneuvers with additional capacity for staging and testing an estimated 200-vehicle fleet.

“TRW looks forward to being a significant contributor to the local economy in Locke Township and in the surrounding area,” says Josef Pickenhahn, vice president of braking engineering for TRW. “The test track has been carefully planned to have minimal impact on the environment and will not require added infrastructure such as new or expanded roadways. The facility will also include high beams and fencing to minimize noise and ensure safety and security.”

The township has already approved the permits for the project. TRW has not released an estimated cost of the project. The new facility will be less than 10 miles from TRW’s manufacturing facility in Fowlerville.

In the case of the company’s Wixom operations, Kelsey-Hayes is moving from two buildings in Wixom, which total 38,000 sf, to one on West Tech Drive with 37,000 sf. Company representatives say the consolidation in one building will allow for the elimination of some duplicate services in the two buildings. The move is expected to be complete later this year.

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