Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Snow-tire traction testing in Florida

Goodyear recently showcased its new winter tires for SUVs and pickup trucks at a press conference in what might seem an unlikely location: Florida. With no snow in the forecast anytime soon, the McKinley Climatic Laboratory at Eglin Air Force Base was the perfect place to put the new Ultra Grip Ice WRT tire line through its paces. Goodyear uses the laboratory for evaluating new winter tire products in the off-season.

The Ultra Grip Ice WRT tires comes in two different tread patterns for light-duty pickups and SUVs, as well as for heavy-duty commercial pickups. The tires are on-sale now, in time for the upcoming winter season.

The laboratory is the largest environmental testing chamber in the world. It is a huge insulated hanger where the inside temperature can be controlled from -65°F to 165°F. The facility has snow- and ice-making capabilities, and it can simulate practically any weather condition found around the world, from polar cold to desert heat. Plus, it can replicate torrential rain, dust, and sand storms. The military built and uses the chamber to test the durability of its aircraft. In fact, the chamber is big enough to test even the largest military plane in its fleet, the Lockheed C5 Galaxy cargo jet. And the facility has other applications as well for commercial users, including automobile and tire manufacturers.

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