LAURENS, S.C. (Feb. 18, 2003) — With the purchase of additional acreage, Michelin North America Inc. is expanding its tire-testing capabilities at its Laurens, S.C., Proving Grounds.
The Greenville, S.C.-based tire maker's Michelin Americas Research and Development Corp. unit said it has acquired some 253 acres adjacent to the Laurens site, increasing the size of the proving grounds to about 3,000 acres.
The land was purchased at a cost of just under $1 million. Ground breaking for the new construction will be in April of this year and the new facilities should be ready for use in the first quarter of 2004, Michelin said.
Mac Demere, spokesman for the proving grounds, said it is the first major expansion of the site since the company added two new tracks in 1995 and 1997. Michelin recently added a classroom and a visitor's building, he said.
The upcoming expansion is not expected to create additional jobs at the facility.
Currently, the Laurens facility consists of more than a dozen special tracks that simulate the entire spectrum of driving conditions and road hazards, according to Michelin. It employs about 50 engineers, technicians, test drivers, mechanics, electricians, testing support specialists, utility workers and administrative personnel.
The proving grounds, which opened in 1976, are about 40 miles from Michelin's Greenville headquarters.