BLACKSBURG, VA - General Motors Co. is investing $5 million to help create the National Tire Research Center at Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI), designed to improve fuel economy and lower emissions.

The facility is the result of a long partnership between VTTI and GM. Other funding for the $14 million center is coming from Virginia Tech and the national tobacco settlement, according to GM.

"This facility will be the only one of its kind in the world and will generate world-class tire research data while generating significant revenue and high tech jobs in Southside Virginia," said Tom Dingus, VTTI director and principal investigator for the tire center proposal.

The National Tire Research Center (NTRC) will incorporate state-of-the-art rolling resistance machinery, enabling tire and automotive manufacturers to accelerate the development of tire technology, reproduce real-world emergency events, and improve vehicle highway safety, according to GM.

GM engineers and scientists, and Virginia Tech faculty will conduct the research and tests to speed introduction of vehicles with advanced tire technology.

"As a founding member of the National Tire Research Center, General Motors looks forward to partnering with Virginia Tech and the Commonwealth of Virginia to pioneer research and development that will develop 'green' tire technologies to further improve the fuel efficiency of vehicles in the future," said Karl Stracke, GM vice president of Global Vehicle Engineering.

VTTI is known for its "Smart Road," a 2.2-mile two-lane road with the ability to replicate rain, snow and fog as well and other driving conditions and collect data from test vehicles on site. The Smart Road eventually will become part of the public transportation system connecting Blacksburg, Va. to Interstate 81.


Originally posted on Automotive Fleet