In May 2021 the Provana Group was established in order to promote “sustainable product systems in agriculture”. Provana Group is actually the third generation of Provana companies, which focus on services for the manufacturers of tyres and agricultural machinery.
Electric propulsion is becoming increasingly attractive for heavy vehicle operators, and Continental is thus working together with truck and bus manufacturers on tyre solutions that meet these vehicles’ specific requirements. It is currently conducting testing at its Contidrom facility in northern Germany with an electric truck made by electric commercial vehicle specialist Futuricum.
After commencing tests of its tyres in Europe last year, Prinx Chengshan returns in 2021 to continue its testing programme. The Chinese tyre maker is utilising a number of sites, including Applus IDIADA in Spain and a facility in Ivalo, Finland, in order to test its winter, all-season and UHP summer tyres.
Continental has become the first tyre manufacturer to order Ansible Motion’s all-new advanced Driver-in-the-Loop (DIL) simulator, the Delta S3. Simulation technology, which is now capable of modelling tyre performance to an extreme degree of accuracy, is increasingly employed by car manufacturers and original equipment suppliers, such as tyre manufacturers. Conti’s decision to bring in the latest DIL simulation technology is informed by the need to mirror its OEM customers’ development processes, but the system’s most important effect will be the efficiency benefits it delivers, as Dr. Boris Mergell, head of research and development of the Tires business area at Continental, explains. “Developing and testing premium tyres is a highly complex, time-intensive process. By using the new dynamic driving simulator, we will make this development process even more efficient in the future.”
This year the well-known Finland-based tyre testing centre Test World turns 30. What better way to celebrate than to redouble its efforts to become a comprehensive test centre for summer, winter and all-season tyres? Following the acquisition of Test World’s parent company Millbrook by UTAC CERAM, which was completed at the start of February 2021, key developments towards this goal include: the purchase of the world’s first all-electric winter tyre traction testing light truck and the addition of a new soon-to-be opened proving ground in Morocco. Tyres & Accessories me up Jukka Antila, Technical Director at Test World as well as Millbrook business development manager Andrew Kern in order to find out more.
Smithers has moved its tyre, wheel, and product testing operation in Suzhou, China into a larger 7,200 square meter building in the Xiangcheng district. As a result, the size of the product testing lab has increased by 90 per cent, with plans to invest in more testing equipment to further expand testing capabilities. In addition to laboratory space, the new building includes classrooms and conference rooms for on-site training and industry meetings.
The 40th annual Tire Society Conference on Tire Science and Technology will again be held virtually this year, from 30 August to 3 September 2021. This year’s theme is “The Virtual Tire” and many conference papers each year are chosen for publication in the critically reviewed Journal of Tire Science and Technology, published quarterly by The Tire Society.
In December 2020 French group UTAC CERAM announced that it was buying British test specialists Millbrook, which also owns well-known tyre test centres such as Test World in Finland. The plan is to merge the two companies, creating “a market-leading group in vehicle testing, vehicle type approval and emerging technologies for autonomous, connected and electric vehicles”.
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.
Test World has converted its ‘Indoor 3’ facility to pure ice, adding to the site’s capacity for indoor ice testing. With updates to the EU Tyre Label and the new ‘Ice Mark’ due next year, Test World has noted a significant increase in enquiries related to ice testing at the Ivalo-based tyre testing facility. Indoor 3 builds on Test World’s existing indoor ice offering, giving its customers unrivalled access to accurate and reliable tyre testing all year round.
UK-based tyre test specialists Tread Ltd has taken delivery of a new Golf 8 test vehicle. Up till now Tread’s company-owned tyre test fleet has included models such as the: Audi 736 SUV Q7; Audi B9 UUHP S5; VW MQB V7 Golf GTI UHP; and a VW T6 LTR.
Pirelli has begun its 2021 World Rally Championship campaign with two days of private tyre testing in Sardinia. The first day is devoted to gravel and the second day on asphalt. At the wheel of Pirelli’s uniquely-liveried Citroen C3 WRC test car will be Norway’s Andreas Mikkelsen, co-driven by his compatriot Anders Jaeger. The former Volkswagen, Citroen and Hyundai factory driver will be spearheading the development of the latest-generation Pirelli Scorpion tyres for gravel and P Zero tyres for asphalt, which will be supplied exclusively to the World Rally Championship from 2021 to 2024. The new tyres will eventually join the studded Sottozero Ice already displayed at the 2020 GP Ice Race in January in the manufacturer’s WRC tyre line-up.