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Charlotte Area News

Tire testing facility planned for the Charlotte region

http://66.225.205.104/LM20090828.mp3

A group of automotive companies plan to set up a facility in the Charlotte region to test tires. WFAE's Lisa Miller has more: The federal government has given auto companies until 2011 to install a device on all new models that would help prevent cars from rolling over. But testing these stability systems is expensive. And so some automotive and tire companies have combined resources to put together a tire testing facility in the Charlotte region that all of them can share. James Cuttino is President of the consortium called Camber Ridge. He's also the head of the Motorsports and Automotive Research Center at UNC Charlotte, but he's taking a leave of absence to head the project. Cuttino won't name the companies involved in the venture. He says currently manufacturers are testing the stability systems by running through dozens of prototype cars. "If we build this facility that will provide them accurate tire data that's actually taken from a machine that's mimicking what the car will go through in that process, then they cut the number of prototype vehicles down significantly," explains Cuttino. No specific site has been chosen yet, but Camber Ridge expects to spend $10 to $20 million on the project. Cuttino says it will be up and running in 2012. It's only estimated to create 20 jobs, but Humpy Wheeler, chairman of the Charlotte Regional Partnership, says the payoff will be in the long-run, because he expects the facility to attract more automotive jobs to the area.