On May 22, the government of Castile-La Mancha approved the project of special interest (PSI) promoted by the Finnish company Nokian Tyres to build a technology center in the municipality of Santa Cruz de la Zarza in Toledo. These facilities will occupy an area of 300 hectares and will be used for testing summer, winter and year-round tires.
Most of the sites on which the new complex are to be located have been acquired by means of purchase and sales agreements between the company and their owners. Its classification as a special-interest project will now make it possible to conclude the acquisition of the land by expropriating the sites for which no agreement has been reached.
In the preliminary announcement of this project in September 2016, Nokian Tyres estimated an investment of 16 millions euros to set up the testing centre, which will complement the two already operating in Finland: Ivalo and Nokia. The regional government will raise this investment to 60 million euros.
Spain was chosen because of its climate, which will allow testing for the purpose of developing safer, more functional and environmentally friendly tires. “The hot Spanish conditions provide us with a great setting for testing our tyres all year long”, explains Pontus Stenberg, vice president of the products and technology unit at Nokian Tyres.
The construction of the complex will provide jobs for 200 people, and another 40 will join when it comes into operation. The company also foresees the creation of indirect jobs in the transport, services and logistics sectors.
The center will have over ten different testing tracks that will be used to study the durability and performance of the tires using the latest technology. The first ones will open in 2019, and the complex is expected to be fully operational in 2020.
A 7-km oval circuit will encircle the whole complex and serve to test tires at speeds of up to 300 km an hour. Inside there will be several shorter tracks, each one with different objectives, which will also be used to perform many of the tests required for certification, such as wet grip and rolling noise tests.
Along with the testing centre, Nokian Tyres will build a training center for the launch of new products and for use as a center for internal and external training courses in the future. It will also serve as a venue for receiving visitors and partners.
Support from Invest in Spain
Nokian Tyres has enjoyed the support of Invest in Spain throughout the whole process from the time it decided to install its technology center in Spain. This project has also given rise to other parallel projects that will further enhance its positive impact on the region.
In addition to the test center, since 2017 Nokian Tyres has partnered with the University of Castile-La Mancha to support a research project into the development of sustainable and innovative projects around the use of the guayule plant as a possible high-quality alternative to natural rubber.
This plant, which is capable of surviving in dry and barren conditions, is currently being cultivated to test it as a possible replacement for natural rubber. If successful, it would offer an attractive alternative crop for local farmers which would be more profitable than the grain cultivation that is widespread in the area.
Last updated: 12|06|2018