NICE – Sumitomo Rubber opens indoor winter tyre test centre
Sumitomo Rubber Industries has inaugurated a winter tyre test facility at its Nayoro Tire Proving Ground on the northern island of Hokkaido, one of its main development sites for winter tyres. The 3,000 square metre Nayoro Indoor ICE Field – NICE for short – is one of the largest indoor on-ice tyre testing facilities in Japan.
The NICE centre houses a 100 metre braking course as well as a turning test course measuring approximately 30×30 metres. The facility enables Sumitomo Rubber to carry out high-precision on-ice testing regardless of the weather conditions, and the tyre maker thus intends to “take full advantage of NICE to further improve the performance of winter tyres and speed up the development process.”
Improving winter tyre performance
NICE officially entered operation at a ceremony held on 26 January. Nayoro’s mayor Takeshi Kato attended and presented the Nayoro Tire Proving Ground team a letter of appreciation on behalf of the city. Kato thanked the facility for its contribution to the local economy over many years as well as the role it’s played in improving the performance of studless winter tyres.
Speaking at the opening day ceremony, Satoru Yamamoto, president of Sumitomo Rubber Industries, declared: “NICE now ranks among the largest indoor on-ice tyre testing facilities in all of Japan. So that we can get the most out of this new facility in order to provide the world’s best winter tyres from right here in Nayoro to countless satisfied customers all over the world, our employees will be working hard on united efforts to put this facility to good use toward more robust tyre development.”
Sumitomo Rubber, a company represented in Europe by the Falken tyre brand, owns and operates three tyre proving grounds in Japan. The main centre is the Okayama Tire Proving Grounds, which it uses for comprehensive tyre performance testing. Sumitomo additionally uses two facilities, the Asahikawa Tire Proving Ground and the Nayoro site, for the development of winter tyres. In addition to the NICE centre, the Nayoro facility features an ice test course and a compacted snow test course.