Brussels, Belgium,
12:22 PM

Goodyear Winter Press Pack 2021 - Tires in action

Winter tires contribute to enhanced road safety in colder conditions and as with summer tires, Goodyear develops and tests them to ensure that they perform to their best in the harshest winter weather. Crucial to its development process, Goodyear’s testing program puts road safety first, with every winter product undergoing a set of rigorous trials before its release on the market.

Development of winter tires begins at the Goodyear Innovation Center in Luxembourg, where once the UltraGrip family of products has gone through the development and prototype stages, the testing cycle can begin. Hundreds of technicians, scientists and test drivers make up the testing department, one of the biggest at the center. Fleets of drivers and cars test around the year to make sure that testing covers all conditions. Even though advances have been made in simulations at the development stage, real-world testing is still the primary form of evaluation. This means a Goodyear product testing program can take two years to complete.

A mission to exceed the limits of compliance

“We have two big blocks of testing,” explains Sebastien Morin, Head of Development at Goodyear, “the indoor testing and the outdoor testing.” The indoor testing program includes a series of trials in laboratory, while outdoor tests are done on tracks and open roads. Snowy conditions can now be replicated indoors at multiple locations across the world, and as a premium tire manufacturer, Goodyear always tests its products to the limit. “Goodyear has a mission to make sure that our winter tires perform to their very best and are very safe,” Morin confirms.

This includes developing prototype tires that can be tested in extreme conditions, that test drivers use to evaluate certain properties. These prototype tires allow the highly-skilled test drivers to subject them to extreme conditions and manoeuvres that customers would only experience in extreme driving situations. “We then have to develop more tires to ensure we digest the ‘mistakes’, to leverage the maximum safety package for those extreme conditions,” says Morin. 

“To meet these criteria is a huge mission,” he continues. “It's needed to duplicate all kinds of situations that you could face on the dry, wet, snow, and on ice, but also to make sure that the testing conditions are extremely severe and much more unusual than situations consumers would be likely to face.” Objective and subjective testing is also an important part of the test program. “Objective testing uses computers, measurements and mathematical data to debate if our tires are better from the reference tire we are using as benchmarks, which is quite often the predecessor product,” Morin explains. Goodyear also benchmarks new tires on competitor products.

Tested on every kind of surface

The creation of a well-balanced tire is extremely important, says Morin. “It's very important that you are not a champion on one test and create a trade-off on other properties. This would not be acceptable for a premium manufacturer like Goodyear. What we want is to make sure that we create balanced tires that perform the best, but that also satisfy the customer on some of their key priorities, such as mileage.” The all-round ability of Goodyear winter tires means that they are tested on every kind of surface – rough, smooth, and every one in-between – and in every different set of conditions. 

Aquaplaning tests are also a vital part of the testing program. “Aquaplaning is extremely important,” Morin says. “Drivers are often driving in wet conditions and the profile of the road is not perfect in every country, which contributes to the aquaplaning phenomenon. It's extremely important we check straight line aquaplaning on a highway with big levels of water, but also aquaplaning on curves. We have to duplicate all these conditions because sometimes you may have to face them and you will be extremely pleased that your tires offer a package of competencies that allow you to drive safely.” 

When it comes to snow, not all snow is the same. And so Goodyear tests in various locations to make sure that the tires can cope with every eventuality, whether that be in Switzerland – which mirrors the conditions in the Alps – or in France and Germany, where the snow is a little wetter and compact. “Here, on closed roads, we test snow braking and hill acceleration,” Morin explains. “In Switzerland, we test traction, duplicating what drivers would experience in conditions found in ski resorts.” 

From the Arctic Circle to New Zealand

Arctic conditions are among the harshest that winter tires can face, but Goodyear tests there, too. “We test in Lapland, around 300km above the Arctic Circle,” confirms Morin. “Here, there is very, very thin snow and extremely low temperatures. The tires could react differently depending on the conditions and Goodyear has to duplicate all the situations that drivers may face. This means whoever they are, wherever they are living, whatever car they drive and the level of driving skills they have.” Away from European climates, Goodyear also tests during New Zealand’s summer months – which are similar to a European winter conditions – to be able to continuously test across the year. 

Of course, all of this means that because Goodyear puts its award-winning range of winter tires through these extreme tests, drivers don’t have to. But should they find themselves in the most severe conditions, they can have unfaltering confidence that their vehicles’ winter tires have been subjected to the most rigorous of testing programs, designed to keep them safe. “Goodyear is very confident that when it launches a tire to the market, that it has no risk that it will perform in an unexpected way, and that's why testing is important,” Morin says. “The most important thing is to satisfy customers. That makes the huge development and validation time worthwhile if drivers buy winter tires and don’t have to worry about them. Whatever conditions they may face, Goodyear is helping them drive safely and to even enjoy driving on their winter tires.”

Click here to read the rest of the Goodyear Winter Press Pack 2021, and for a range of images and infographics to download.