Nokian Tyres has launched the construction of a new testing and technology centre in Santa Cruz de la Zarza, Spain. The first test tracks will be completed next year, and the technology centre is expected to be fully operational in 2020.
Nokian Tyres currently operates two test centers in Finland and the company says that adding the third centre in Spain’s warmer climate allows for year-round testing of summer, all-season and winter tyres. The main focus will be on summer and all-season tyres with a high speed rating; Nokian says there is especially high demand for them in growth markets in Central Europe and North America.
The 300-hectare testing area will have more than ten different test tracks that will be used to study the durability and performance of tyres. Circling the facility is a 7km oval track for testing tyres at speeds of up to 300 km/h. Furthermore, the tracks allow for performing many of the approval testing required from tyres, such as wet grip and rolling noise tests.
In addition to testing, the technology centre aims to accelerate sustainable product development and innovation. Nokian Tyres is already involved in a research project that studies the use 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.
The technology centre project will employ about 200 people during construction and up to 40 new positions once complete. Additionally, the company says it will have a significant indirect effect on the employment of the transport, services and logistics industries.