Outside the world of enthusiasts, tyres are often taken for granted, with the view that all brands of round black things at each corner of the car are the same, so why not buy the cheapest? Well, anyone who has ever looked at the competitive tyre tests carried out by such publications as Auto Bild can not fail to have been truly shocked by the terrible performance put up by most budget tyres in areas such as wet grip and braking. These poor performances by budget tyres could literally be the difference between life or death in extreme situations, yet the average car owner is blissfully unaware – surely scope for a long-overdue safety publicity campaign…………come on Department for Transport!
Not so long ago, keen motorists would therefore never think of buying tyres from brands other than the select few, such as Dunlop, Michelin & Pirelli. And this suspicious attitude would generally have been absolutely right.
However, the situation is changing, and some rising stars are appearing in the abundance of budget boots, mainly from Asia. Prime amongst these is Kumho, a South Korean brand whose tyres are already creeping up the Auto Bild and other league tables of performance, and are set to do so even further with their creation of an innovative new tyre testing facility at Papenburg in Lower Saxony, Germany, to develop tyres specifically for the European market.
With an expanding portfolio of supply contracts for European car manufacturers and numerous new products for the European aftermarket, Kumho’s European Technical Centre (KETC) is already testing upwards of 3,000 tyres per annum.
The self-contained 1,000 square metre premises will house all the required tyres and wheel rims, plus the nine-strong test team. The related proving ground has been particularly designed to encompass:
- Subjective handling
- Wet handling characteristics
- Driving comfort
- Interior/exterior noise
- Braking on all surfaces
These activities will be supported by hi-tech novel GPS-based measurement systems and digital evaluation of the tyre footprints.
The new centre will manage all KETC’s outdoor test requirements, while any additional needs will be catered for by a mix of the facilities at Idiada (Spain), Nardo (Italy), Nürburgring (Germany) and Ivalo (Finland).
Commenting on the impressive new resource at Papenburg, KETC’s Manager of Outside Testing, Sven Rath, said: “The creation of this self-contained test centre is another important milestone in our latest product strategy, and invaluable in terms of our research and product development for the European market.”
We look forward to the results of this investment with interest and fully expect to see Kumho take yet a further leap up the tyre league tables when they are next published.
Interested – find out more about Kumho here
Link to the 2014 Auto Bild tyre tests courtesy of www.tyrereviews.co.uk here