Nokian Tires has launched the construction of a new testing and technology center in Spain. The groundbreaking ceremony was held this Friday on the grounds of the new center in Santa Cruz de la Zarza. The first test tracks will be completed next year, and the technology center is expected to be fully operational in 2020.
The company currently operates two test centers in Finland – Ivalo and Nokia. Adding the third testing facility and technology center in Spain’s warmer climate allows for year-round testing of summer, all-season and winter tires. The aim is to develop tires that are safer, more functional and eco-friendlier than before. The main focus is on summer and all-season tires with a high speed rating; there is especially high demand for them in Nokian Tires’ growth markets in Central Europe and North America.
“We have been planning the new center for a long time in cooperation with the local authorities and other partners. Now is the time to take the next step and start building a technology center for the future that offers versatile opportunities for accelerating product development and growing our product range,” says Hille Korhonen, President & CEO for Nokian Tires.
STATE-OF-THE-ART TYRE TESTING TECHNOLOGY
The vast three-hundred hectare testing area will have more than ten different test tracks that will be used to study the durability and performance of tires with the modern testing technology. Circling the facility is a seven-kilometer oval track for testing tires at speeds of up to 300 km/h. Furthermore, the tracks allow for performing many of the approval testing required from tires, such as wet grip and rolling noise tests.
– The modern, versatile test tracks in the new technology center will be tailored for the demanding development work that goes into every Nokian Tires product. The hot Spanish conditions provide us with a great setting for testing our tyies all year long. Comprehensive testing and a thorough understanding of customer needs ensures that our premium tires are state-of-the-art and work reliably in all conditions, says Pontus Stenberg, Vice President of the Products and Technologies unit for Nokian Tires.
RESEARCH PROJECT SEEKS REPLACEMENT FOR NATURAL RUBBER
In addition to testing, the technology center aims to accelerate sustainable product development and innovation. Already in 2017, Nokian Tires was involved in starting a research project that studies the utilization of the guayule plant for more environmentally friendly tyre manufacturing. The guayule plant can survive under dry and barren conditions and is seen as a potential replacement for natural rubber. For local farmers, it is a possible alternative to less profitable grain farming.