Nokian Tyres has broken ground on a new testing and technology center in Santa Cruz de la Zarza, Spain, with the first test tracks expected to be completed in 2019, and the technology center due to be fully operational in 2020. The company already operates two test centers in Finland, but the warmer climate of the Spanish facility Spain’s allows for year-round testing of summer and all-season tires – a key capability as the company is looking to meet growing demand for summer and all-season tires with a high speed rating in the Central Europe and North America markets.
The 300 hectare testing area will feature more than 10 test tracks that will be used to study tire durability and performance, including a 7km (4.35 mile) oval track that circles the facility for tests at speeds of up to 300 km/h (186mph). The tracks also enable many tire approval tests, such as wet grip and rolling noise tests.
In addition to testing, the technology center is intended to help accelerate sustainable product development and innovation. Already in 2017, Nokian Tyres was involved in starting a research project that studies 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.
“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,” stated Pontus Stenberg, VP of the products and technologies unit of Nokian Tyres.