Ivalo testing center
Ivalo Testing Center “White Hell” – Testing under extreme conditions
Nokian Tyres uses over half of its R&D costs on testing products. Sufficient test results cannot be achieved under laboratory conditions alone. Nokian Tyres tests its products in real-life environments in order to make them work flawlessly under difficult, demanding, and varying conditions.
The company has its own testing center spanning over 700 hectares in Ivalo, Finnish Lapland, to the north of the Arctic Circle. There, R&D and testing teams as well as test drivers put tyres to the test. The Ivalo Testing Center simulates winter driving extremes from November to May, both day and night. The temperature variations are harsh. Variations of up to 40 degrees centigrade are possible within the same day. In midwinter, the darkness brought on by the polar night creates a new set of challenges, while the spring is a constant struggle with the conditions brought on by cold nights and sunny days. Over 20,000 tyres are tested each winter.
The Ivalo Testing Center has more than 20 different test tracks. The continuously maintained test tracks span over 100 km in total. The tracks are used to test handling on snow and ice, and the tyre’s acceleration and braking, for example. Nokian Tyres is the world's leading expert in northern conditions, which is especially due to the comprehensive and careful testing performed in Lapland.
1. Grip on ice
Tammijärvi Lake is the largest lake at the Ivalo Testing Center.Three straight test tracks measuring one kilometre each are set upon its icy surface each winter in order to measure tyres’ grip during braking and acceleration.
- three 20 m x 1 000 m ice straights
2. Grip on snow
The friction values of a tyre’s lateral and longitudinal grip are measured using equipment installed in the test vehicle. Tests are conducted on two straights of different lengths. The surface onthese tracks is made up of hard-packed snow.
- test tracks: 20 m x 1 000 m and 25 m x 500 m
3. Hill test
The hill test is used to measure and evaluate how a tyre climbs upa steep slope. Three routes with different profiles and steepness and a different number of curves lead up to the hill. Test results are obtained from the test driver’s comments and objective measurements.
- maximum 20% incline
- three routes: 1 000 m, 900 m and 500 m
4. Handling on ice
Conducted on an icy surface, this handling test measures a tyre’s maximum grip in curves with different radiuses and on a long straight. Measurement results and the test driver’s views are used in the evaluation.
- two ice-covered tracks: 800 m and 1 000 m
5. Handling on a snowy track
In this handling test, an experienced test driver compares the tyres’behaviour on a snowy track, i.e. on a hard-packed snow surface.The route measuring just over 12 kilometres simulates ordinary road conditions with its slopes and curves.
- a winding road with slopes and curves, about 12 kilometres long hard-packed snow surface
6. Handling on a snowy track IIThe second track intended for evaluating tyres’ behaviour in snowis about one kilometre long. In testing terms, this is a so-called index track where tyres’ basic properties can be defined. The demanding route features a large number of curves with different radiuses. Test drivers find out the difference between various tyres by driving at the extreme limits of the tyres’ grip and at extremely high speeds. Measured driving times and the test drivers’ subjective assessments complement each other.
7. Lateral grip and longitudinal stability on ice
A tyre’s lateral grip and longitudinal stability are determined by evaluating its behaviour on ice. Lateral grip is tested on an icy circle track. Lap times are recorded in the circle track test, and otherwise comparisons are based on subjective views of the tyre’s handling. When carrying out tests on ice, testers aim to keep conditions as constant as possible by roughening the track’s surface with a specially designed roughener. The objective is to keep the ice evenly slippery.
- circle diameter 300 m
- handling track 2 300 m
8. Maintenance area: office and garagesThe Ivalo Testing Center has a maintenance building housing theoffice premises and a meeting room. During the busiest periods, testing is carried out on an extremely tight schedule, with all available time utilised as efficiently as possible.The garages are used to store and service test cars and equipment used for repairing the test tracks, and to mount and change tyres.
9. Arctic Driving School ice tracks