Ivalo Testing Center - "White Hell"
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.
Winter tyre testing at the top
Nokian Tyres’ winter tyre expertise stems deep from the heart of the relentless Finnish Lapland.
It’s a long way from the European metropolises to the Nokian Tyres Ivalo Testing Center. The Finnish cousin of the German “Grüne Hölle” in Nürburgring is located approximately 300 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle in the middle of the wilderness.
In 1986, Nokian Tyres set up their Testing Center at a location that puts the characteristics of tyres to the ultimate test. Ivalo Testing Center works under extreme conditions: in the freezing cold and amidst snow and ice.
The road that traverses hilly terrain ends with a gate; beyond the gate lies a modern and ever developing world of tyre testing. Utility buildings, cars of different brands, technology and tools, and, of course, professionals at work.
The Ivalo Testing Center is continuously increasing its reputation as a suitably ruthless and technologically advanced location.
– Test visits from international motoring magazines are constantly increasing. They do not consume resources from Nokian Tyres' own product development, but instead form a part of our natural activities under arctic conditions, Petri Peltoniemi reminds us.
Unique and flexible
The goal of the safety pioneer is to develop even better and more reliable winter tyre models. The Ivalo Testing Center is one of the most important success factors: it is our own home court and a unique birthplace for winter tyre expertise.
The carefully planned tracks and pathways test car tyres relentlessly under conditions that are as evenly laid out as possible.
In Ivalo, each tyre that is tested experiences hundreds of hours of braking, acceleration, circular tracks, slalom, and steep hills on snow and ice. The challenge is to separate the best tyres from the good ones, enabling future winter tyres to have the best safety characteristics in the world.
– Ivalo Testing Center has no equal. No machine or no amount of work performed indoors can beat testing under these conditions, says Matti Morri, Technical Customer Service Manager for Nokian Tyres.
"Ivalon Testing Center has no equal. No machine or no amount of work performed indoors can beat testing under these conditions."
Morri knows what he is talking about. This experienced tyre professional has been hosting training and launch visits for Nokian Tyres' international retailers in Ivalo for twenty years.
– This work is interesting and international as well. It has also made me very familiar with all of the work at the Testing Center. A surprising amount of work goes into track maintenance, for example: we work long hours, and only a small part of it consists of driving and testing.
Peltoniemi says the same. Conditions that enable comparable results are not created by accident, or by simply waiting. The conditions in Ivalo require the best possible expertise and complete commitment from everyone.
– In the worst possible weather, the maintenance team needs to start maintaining the tracks early in the morning and continue until late at night. The Ivalo Testing Center can flexibly adjust to the situation. During the active season, the Center operates seven days a week.
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