HANNOVER, Germany — Continental A.G. plans to double the scope of the wet-handling capabilities at its Contidrom tire-testing facility outside of Hannover to accommodate the heavy demand for testing of this type.
Conti did not disclose the expected investment in the expansion, which foresees duplicating the existing 1.1-mile wet-handling course at the facility, nor say when the project might be completed.
The Contidrom opened in 1967 in Wietze, Germany, about 25 miles north of the company's headquarters in Hannover. Since then Conti has tested 1.3 million tires.
Initially, the Contidrom comprised a high-speed 1.7-mile oval, which remains a cornerstone of the facility. The company added 1.1- mile wet-handling and a 2.4-mile dry-handling courses in subsequent years, followed by areas for braking and aquaplaning tests on rail-guided tracks. A pair of circular tracks of different sizes serve primarily for tire tests in wet conditions.
In 2003 an off-road section was opened, offering various gradients, an axial twist track, a steep incline and a water basin, considered ideal for testing off-road tires on 4WD vehicles
In 2012, the company put into service an all-weather Automated Indoor Braking Analyzer (AIBA), where Conti can conduct up to 100,000 braking tests a year can be conducted on dry, wet, and even icy road surfaces.
The facility is about 1,000-foot long. The active area of the facility involves a 330-foot acceleration phase with the linear motor and a 250-foot deceleration section. Vehicles can be accelerated to 71 mph before braking.
Among the facility's distinct testing capabilities:
• Circular courses used to simulate aquaplaning when cornering or traction on different road surfaces that can be irrigated by sprinkler systems.
• Another test conducted on a circular track delivers findings on the safety reserves of a tire with a slow puncture: A car or truck circles the track at 34 mph; the pressure in the tires is reduced by 1.45 psi each lap until the tire literally rolls off the rim.
The Contidrom is staffed by around 100 employees.