Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd. is opening a USA Technical Center this month, and says the center will help the company develop products more quickly to meet customers' needs in North and South America.

"Since gaining a much greater degree of freedom to conduct business in North America and Europe with the dissolution of our global alliance with Goodyear last October, the Sumitomo Rubber Group has been moving forward with active efforts to enhance our R&D, production and sales infrastructure to better serve these markets," the company says.

The tech center, built on the grounds of the company's factory in Tonawanda, N.Y., will become fully operational in January 2017.

By March 2017, Sumitomo says it will begin evaluating tires for four-wheel vehicles at its USA Tire Test Course in Huntsville, Ala., which previously has been used solely for motorcycle tire testing.

"With these enhancements to our U.S.-based R&D and testing infrastructure, we will complete the framework for the rapid development and timely launch of tires that appeal to customers in North and South America by better responding to their needs."

The company also is moving forward with the preparations for a Europe Technical Center, which Sumitomo plans to have fully operational by September 2017.