Hyundai unveils car tires with built-in, push-button snow chains

Hyundai unveils car tires with built-in, push-button snow chains
Hyundai's innovative new wheel/tire system features built-in, push-button snow chains
Hyundai's innovative new wheel/tire system features built-in, push-button snow chains
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Hyundai's innovative new wheel/tire system features built-in, push-button snow chains
Hyundai's innovative new wheel/tire system features 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.

Hyundai Motor and Kia Unveil Snow Chain-Integrated Tire Technology Using Shape Memory Alloy

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!

Source: Hyundai

Rob Tillaart
Great idea?
Why not shaping the memory alloy in such a way that the default is out (snow chain mode),
and that warmer weather retracts it? No need to switch it on/off as nature controls it.
Or is that more difficult to get that working in a robust way?

Bits of gravel and sand will interfere with retraction
I wish the would invent a self balancing tire/wheel
@RobTillart : I’m guessing because you only fit the tyres in Winter and deploy as required. These would be too heavy and fuel inefficient to run 365. Strange that you have them permanently switched ‘on’ to deactivate the snow-mode, so it must be a constraint of the alloys’ physics in that it’s stronger when switched off (activated)?
Seems an overly complex system, which will almost certainly be extremely expensive, to fit and maintain. I think I will stick with Winter Tyres for the foreseeable future.
Better than nothing,I guess,but I wonder if real tire chains might be better,as there would be more surface area exposed with the real deal. This invention only has exposed "rings" of material to grip the snow/ice.
josh kahan
Brilliant if it works... lucky for me that it is not on market yet as I am currently selling two sets of chains:)
I'll bet those are loud, with or without them activated. Seems to me, a better way to go would be airless tires with retractable studs in the siping groves. No strange tread interruption, and probably easier & cheaper to make.
The best retractible system is what fire trucks etc have in a small verticle tube with retractable chains inside the tube that a motor spins and extends chains which spread with inertia flying the chains under the treads. The rubber squeezes repeatedly arriving and leaving chains on the road it gets a needed bite into snow/ice. Its bulk may be why an invention is slow to arrive, but it could be mounted to suspensions and be 12v.
What happens when the tire wears out? Can one buy separate tire segments? How much to replace?

A whole lotta work (and thought) needs to go into this.
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