TOKYO—Yokohama Rubber Co. Ltd. has opened a winter tire test facility on a 224-acre site on Hokkaido Island that formerly was a horse race track.
The new center, Tire Test Center of Hokkaido, is located near to Asahikawa City in an area that should yield sub-freezing winter temperatures from late December through late February, Yokohama said.
During the rest of the year, the company said it will use TTCH to test summer tires.
Yokohama said global expansion of the company's tire business has increased the number of products that must be evaluated and required increasingly sophisticated evaluation methods.
Up to now, Yokohama has tested its winter tires on a smaller facility nearby in Takasu, Hokkaido, and at rented courses in Sweden.
Yokohama Rubber President Hikomitsu Noji and Asahikawa mayor Masahito Nishikawa ceremoniously opened the center Jan. 20.
The facility offers a 0.6-mile-long straight snow track, a flat ice track, hill track, snow and ice circle and a handling track, allowing YRC to conduct tests with cars at speeds exceeding 62 mph as well as braking, starting and acceleration tests with trucks and buses on a variety of road conditions, including winding and sloped roads.
The TTCH is located just 15 minutes by car from the Asahikawa train station and 10 minutes from Asahikawa Airport.
YRC said TTCH is nearly four times the size of its existing “T*MARY” course in Takasu. YRC did not disclose its investment in buying or converting the facility.