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Tomorrow’s car testing in Raleigh County today

BECKLEY, W.Va. — Reports came in Monday of black SUVs and mysterious vehicles covered in tarps parked at a hotel off Harper Drive. Others saw the same on I-77.

All the vehicles had Michigan license plates, people said. Questions quickly followed, asking what’s happening, why are these cars here?

 Questions to state and local officials left them baffled. However, calls to Michigan brought answers and laughs.

What was happening, a spokesman in the Michigan governor’s office said, is one of the large domestic automakers testing prototype vehicles.

Those cars wrapped in tarps are top secret and could make the companies millions. On the other hand, the cars being tested over the next few days in Raleigh County could also become the next Lincoln Blackwood.

Carmakers go to great extremes to keep a lid on their future vehicles and advancements before making them public. For car lovers, many have seen the pictures in auto magazines of prototype cars clad in black vinyl and fitted with false bulges to distort the car’s true appearance and capabilities.

But if they’re so secret, why let the cars out in public at all?

To make sure the vehicles live up to the consumers’ standards and one-up competitors, carmakers test their cars in all types of environments. While much testing can be done on closed tracks, real-world car testing needs to take place in real-world conditions.

One of those places is Sandstone Mountain in eastern Raleigh County…


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