Camber Ridge launches $60m test facility

Camber Ridge has announced its financial partnership with Teton Capital of Jackson, Wyoming, to launch a new state-of-the-art facility for vehicle tyre characterisation, which will begin operations in 2016. The facility aims to offer all the advantages of testing real tyres on real surfaces, but with the precision, environmental control and repeatability of a laboratory environment.

The new facility is located in Charlotte, North Carolina (USA), in the midst of the region’s growing automotive research and manufacturing cluster. Teton Capital is backing the commercialisation of Camber Ridge patented tyre testing and characterisation technologies that promise to deliver new scientific insights into tyre performance that are required to serve the automotive industry’s commitments to fuel efficiency, safety and future technologies such as autonomous driving.

Unlike traditional tyre testing laboratories that use stationary test equipment, Camber Ridge will test tyres on a unique indoor test track, a paved 0.5 mile oval, using specially developed test carriages that are propelled along a guide rail system. Operations will begin with Camber Ridge’s ‘Genesis’ tyre test carriage, a 9,000N capacity force and moment testing rig intended for passenger vehicle and light commercial tyres up to 34 inch diameter and at speeds up to 65mph. Initial running will be on dry reference surfaces at a controlled ambient temperature but the facility is being designed for phased introductions of additional paved surfaces, water testing and other controlled conditions.

Camber Ridge will be a resource for tyre manufacturers, OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers who need to assess the performance of tyres in relation to vehicles and road surfaces, rather than simply comparing tyre-to-tyre. ‘Our approach is to combine the best features of traditional laboratory testing with the best features of proving ground testing, such that tyre measurements are both repeatable and accurate,’ states Dr. James F. Cuttino, CEO of Camber Ridge.

‘We understand that today’s vehicle designers are faced with big challenges — mostly related to regulatory compliance and complex on-board systems — both of which demand accurate simulation during the product development stage. At the heart of it all is the tyre, the only connection between a car and the road, so our aim is to give engineers access to the best possible information about tyres, information that can reduce uncertainty in simulations an potentially reduce the costs associated with traditional on-road testing. Teton Capital’s funding allows us to implement a number of advanced technologies that have been in the internal R&D stage since 2009.’

‘We are very excited about Camber Ridge’s future and our partnership together to bring to market an innovative and efficient way to provide the automotive industry with much needed capabilities that will have such an impact on performance, safety, and development costs,’ said David Sokol, CEO and chairman of Teton Capital. ‘Since tyres are such an important influence on how cars drive and behave, I believe this could eventually create a paradigm shift in the way modern cars and roadways are designed.’

Teton Capital is a private equity firm with a history of investing in automotive related industries, as well as banking and consumer products.