SANTA CRUZ DE LA ZARZA, Spain—Nokian Tyres P.L.C. broke ground on the construction of a new technology center May 25 in Santa Cruz de la Zarza, with the first test tracks set to be completed in 2019 and the technology center fully operational in 2020.
The test center will be Nokian's third, joining ones in Ivalo and Nokia, Finland. The third test site, Nokian said, will allow for year-round testing of summer, all-season and winter tires. The company said the aim is to develop tires that are safer, more functional and eco-friendly.
Nokian first disclosed plans for the facility in 2016.
Nokian said demand is high, particularly in Central Europe and North America, Nokian's key growth markets, for summer and all-season tires with high speed ratings.
"We have been planning the new center for a long time in cooperation with the local authorities and other partners," Hille Korhonen, Nokian president and CEO, said in a statement. "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 testing area will span nearly 750 acres, with more than 10 different test tracks that will be used to study the durability and performance of tires with the modern testing technology. An 4.3-mile oval track will circle the facility, allowing testing of tires at speeds of up to 185 miles per hour. Wet grip and rolling noise tests also can be conducted on the track.
"The hot Spanish conditions provide us with a great setting for testing our tires all year long," Pontus Stenberg, vice president of the Products and Technologies unit for Nokian, said in a statement. "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."
Nokian said the technology center will focus on accelerating sustainable product development and innovation, furthering Nokian's recent research project that studied the utilization of the guayule plant for more environmentally friendly tire manufacturing. According to the company, guayule can survive under dry and barren conditions and is seen as a potential replacement for natural rubber.
Nokian said the project will employ about 200 during construction and as many as 40 once the project is complete.
The tire maker said it plans to participate in the local tree planting project and actions that support nesting of bird.