Hyundai unveils car tires with built-in, push-button snow chains
Hyundai has presented a new wheel and tire design that incorporates built-in snow chains that deploy and retract at the push of a button, potentially putting an end to the fiddly, freezing process of wrapping and removing traditional snow chains.
Each of the tires will have six indented grooves across it, in line with the wheel's six spokes. Inside these grooves live thick snow chain-like wires, retracted well back into the tread.
These are partially made using compressed shape memory alloys, which can be activated and expanded when an electric current is sent through them. So when the road starts looking sketchy, or the law requires snow chains, it's a simple matter of pressing a button. The shape memory alloy reverts to its original shape, pushing the wire loop up above the level of the tread. At that point, you're good to go; no wet knees, slushy shoes or freezing fingers required.
As a side benefit, says Hyundai, the snow chains become a very visible (and audible) reminder of when it's time to get new tires. At this stage, it's just a concept idea.
“This innovation, which will hopefully be introduced on Hyundai and Kia vehicles someday, reflects our commitment to turning advanced technologies into real-world solutions that benefit customers,” said Joon Mo Park, Hyundai's Head of Advanced Chassis Development Team.
Indeed, since it relies upon the entire wheel assembly being redesigned, complete with electrical connections, it's going to take some fairly specific work – both from Hyundai and from tire manufacturers – to make this happen. But for people that frequently need to drive in snowy or icy conditions, this kind of technology could be a huge convenience and a genuine life saver.
Hyundai says it's patented the technology in South Korea and the USA, and that Hyundai/Kia plans to "consider mass production of the tires after further technological development, durability and performance tests and regulation reviews."
Terrific idea, here's hoping we see it sooner rather than later!