Hankook Tire says it will establish its own European winter testing facility in Ivalo, Finland, 300km north of the Arctic Circle.

The supplier recently signed a contract to build the facility with Finnish tyre testing company, Test World next to its own evaluation area of Mellatracks.

Hankook's proving ground will incorporate new test tracks for different situations and will be securely fenced, as well as equipped with the necessary connecting and service roads.

Preparations for construction and design work started immediately after the signing of the agreement and Hankook expects the entire site to be operational from December, 2016.

"Our company has been putting emphasis towards regionalised product development ever since," said head of Hankook Tire in Europe, Ho-Youl Pae.

"We strongly believe Hankook premium products must be developed and tested within their designated region, reflecting their specific road and weather conditions to fit exactly to the local market needs during the entire year.

"As also a product's time to market is a key decisive factor nowadays, the new proving ground in Ivalo [will] boost effectiveness of our winter testing here in Europe."

The tyre maker's investment in the world's most northerly winter proving ground area has been made partly also due to the increasingly varying conditions and the uncertain winter in more southerly Scandinavian or Alpine areas.

Ivalo's location offers stable and long winter conditions which extend the time available for testing. Flexible air services and a wide range of ancillary services have also been identified as additional benefits.

Once established, Hankook Tire's Germany-based R&D unit, the Hankook Tire Europe Technical Centre (ETC) in Hanover will be responsible to manage the new winter testing site.

"Hankook Tire has largely expanded R&D in Europe since the initial opening of our facility in 1997," added ETC head, Klaus Krause. "Now we are one of the main suppliers to many premium vehicle manufacturers, including all German brands Audi, BMW, MAN, Mercedes-Benz Car and Truck, MINI, and Porsche.

"This requires a drastic increase in testing capacity, also for the expansion of our future winter original equipment business. Our long standing partnership with Test World has convinced us to establish the new venue in Ivalo."