Nokian Tyres 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.
Nokian Tyres 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 tyres. The aim is to develop tyres that are safer, more functional and eco-friendlier than before. The main focus is on summer and all-season tyres with a high speed rating; there is especially high demand for them in Nokian Tyres’ 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 Tyres.
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 tyres with the modern testing technology. Circling the facility is a seven-kilometer 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.
– 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. The hot Spanish conditions provide us with a great setting for testing our tyres all year long. Comprehensive testing and a thorough understanding of customer needs ensures that our premium tyres are state-of-the-art and work reliably in all conditions, says Pontus Stenberg, Vice President of the Products and Technologies unit for Nokian Tyres.
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 Tyres 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.
A positive impact on the region
The technology center will have a positive impact on the vitality and employment of the region. The project will employ about 200 people during construction and up to 40 new positions once complete. Additionally, it will have a significant indirect effect on the employment of the transport, services and logistics industries.
Nokian Tyres actively builds relationships with local communities by supporting local events, sports clubs and selected charity projects. The environment is also taken into account in many ways. Nokian Tyres will, for example, participate in the local tree planting project and actions that support nesting of birds.
Emiliano García-Page, the President of Castile-La Mancha, and Patricia Franco, the Minister of Economic Development and Employment, are grateful for the investment and long-term cooperation that will provide new opportunities for the region.
– Nokian Tyres investing in Castile-La Mancha is an important project for us too, creating new jobs and growth opportunities for the region. We believe it will have a positive impact on local business here in the heart of Spain, says the President of Castile-La Mancha Mr. Emiliano García-Page.