Officially opened during 2013, the National Tire Research Center (NTRC) has been designed to serve as an advanced tire research center and test facility specializing in independent research, testing, and assessments that supplement activities performed by global tire and vehicle manufacturers.
The NTRC represents a collaborative effort led by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) in alliance with the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR), General Motors, and the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification Commission. The center provides the transportation industry the research and testing capabilities needed to engineer and develop tires that will provide greater fuel economy and lower emissions while meeting federal vehicle requirements and customer expectations. This level and breadth of research, development, and testing in one location does not currently exist anywhere else for automotive and tire manufacturers.
The NTRC has partnered with the Southern Virginia Vehicle Motion Labs (SoVa Motion), which features an 8-post Test Rig, Wheel Force Transducers, and two of Cruden’s Simulators. This equipment encompasses the tools needed to address virtual components prior to conducting ride and handling tests on the Virginia International Raceway world-class circuit and designated local roads.
The NTRC features an $11.2 million force and moment machine (LTRe) created for passenger-car, light-truck, and motorsport tires. The LTRe is a superior product representing a transformational leap in technology by offering at least twice the capability in major performance areas across current tire test machines.
The NTRC plans to incorporate state-of-the-art rolling resistance machinery that will enable tire and automotive manufacturers to accelerate the development of green tire technology, reproduce real-world events, and improve vehicle handling and stability. Additionally, the NTRC has a long-term goal of expanding equipment and facilities targeted at the development of related markets such as heavy-truck and military-vehicle tires.
Researchers are currently pursuing the application of innovative materials and design to create a super tire. This tire can adjust on the fly with the car and road without sacrificing wear or traction and can increase fuel efficiency, potentially saving billions of gallons of fuel annually.
The NTRC will create additional research and funding opportunities for vehicle manufacturers, tire manufacturers, the motorsports industry, local educational institutions, and government agencies. Transportation industry engineers and scientists will continue to work together to conduct research and testing that enable the industry to more rapidly introduce vehicles with newly developed technology.
It is expected that the unique capabilities offered by the NTRC will attract other companies in the automotive or racing industries to locate in the Southern Virginia region. Using a methodology developed by SRI International, a study projected that the NTRC will have an economic impact of $147 million on the Southern Virginia region during its initial 10 years of operation, creating 183 jobs in the region by 2020 (direct jobs created were estimated at 87; indirect and induced jobs were estimated at 96).
Global customers are already joining regional industry leaders coming to Southern Virginia to see this facility and to tap into the unique capabilities offered. These visits carry associated benefits to the regional economy that result from the simple acquisition of goods and services from other firms during NTRC-related visits.
Frank Della Pia is Director of the National Tire Research Center at VTTI. His career spans more than 27 years in the automotive industry.
NTRC provides tire testing capabilities for the automotive industry and features a one-of-a-kind facility designed to generate world-class tire research data.
NTRC is a collaborative effort led by VTTI in alliance with:
National Tire Research Center
1020 Lotus Drive
Alton, Virginia 24520