Nokian Tyres’ new testing center in Santa Cruz de la Zarza, Spain is on track for its scheduled opening in 2020. Total investment is estimated to be €60m (US$67.25m).
Despite some heavy rain over Easter, most of the preparatory work for the 10 test tracks is now complete. The top layers of the soil have been removed and the next phase will be executing the careful ground construction work for the asphalt to be laid, with most of the tracks due to be completed in 2020.
The center piece of the 300ha site is a 7km-long oval track. A team from Germany specialized in constructing banked curves is working on the topography and the upper layers of the curves. The banking of the southern curve and the ground work are ready. Next will be the fine profiling and laying of the first layers for asphalt. The oval track can be used for testing tires at speeds of up to 300km/h.
“The testing center in Spain is the largest single investment in testing the company has ever made. It will enable us to produce products for the growth markets, aligned with our strategy. It supports research and development for all our products,” said Juha Pirhonen, VP of tire technologies.
The test center in Spain will be Nokian’s third test facility and will complement the company’s existing tire testing network, which consists of a 700ha site in Ivalo, Finland, for testing winter tires and a site near the Finnish headquarters in Nokia.
Exploring new eco-friendly raw materials
Meanwhile Nokian Tyres has been cultivating and studying guayule as an alternative source of natural rubber with local universities and partners at a plantation managed by local farmers.
At the new facility, the tire manufacturer has preserved 25ha of land for wildlife protection. This includes a nesting house for hawks and owls and water features for birds, which will be surveyed during the next three years. Holm oaks and other trees will also be planted at the site.