Nokian Tyres has launched the construction of a new testing and technology center in Spain.
The groundbreaking ceremony was held this Friday, May 25 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.
Nokian Tyres currently operates two test centers in Finland – Ivalo and Nokia. Adding a third testing facility and technology center in Spain’s warmer climate allows for year-round testing of all-season, all-weather and winter tires. The aim is to develop tires that increase driver safety, are more environmentally friendly and improve performance. With North American demand growing for tires with a higher speed rating, the center will help Nokian Tyres further develop its growing all-season lineup.
“We have been planning the new center for a long time in cooperation with the local authorities and other partners,” said Hille Korhonen, president and CEO for Nokian Tyres. “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.”
The vast 750-acre testing area will have more than 10 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 4.5 mile oval track for testing tires at speeds of up to 190 mph. The tracks will also 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 Tyres product,” said Pontus Stenberg, vice president of the products and technologies unit for Nokian Tyres. “The hot Spanish conditions provide us with a great setting for testing our tires 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.”
In addition to testing, the technology center aims to accelerate sustainable product development and innovation. In 2017, Nokian Tyres was involved in starting a research project that studied the utilization of the guayule plant for more environmentally friendly tire 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.