Automotive

Nokian develops winter tires with retractable studs

Nokian develops winter tires w...
The studs in their extended state
The studs in their extended state
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The studs in their withdrawn state
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The studs in their withdrawn state
The studs in their withdrawn state
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The studs in their withdrawn state
A test vehicle equipped with the experimental tires
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A test vehicle equipped with the experimental tires
The tires provide extra traction on icy surfaces
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The tires provide extra traction on icy surfaces
The studs in their extended state
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The studs in their extended state
The studs in their extended state
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The studs in their extended state
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Studded tires may make it easier to drive on ice, but those same studs will quickly wear down when used on dry asphalt – plus, they'll create a very rough, noisy ride. The problem is, most winter drivers encounter both types of road conditions, often even on the same trip. That's why Nokian has created a snow tire with retractable studs.

Currently just a demo project, the tire is a variation on the existing Nokian Hakkapeliitta 8 SUV studded winter tire. Instead of that tire's permanently-deployed studs, however, the new one features studs with a flat housing that remains in place, from within which a hard metal pin can be raised or lowered.

The idea is that drivers could activate the studs on all four wheels from within the vehicle when approaching icy patches, simply by pressing a button. When conditions improved, they could withdraw them again.

Although there's no hard word on commercial availability, Nokian has stated that "The unique stud concept may indeed become a reality one day." The tires can be seen in action in the video below.

Source: Nokian via DamnGeeky

Nokian Tyres & future technology - The world's first non-studded winter tyre with studs

View gallery - 6 images
14 comments
GoodLife03
Had this idea 5 years ago. Question is do they have a working product, or just a video?
Lucas1325
I hope these are released soon. I know I would buy a set. Imagine the decrease in accidents! Maybe they could work on some sort of self deployment system.
Slowburn
The cost has got to outweigh the usefulness.
Bob Stuart
Do they have a proposed mechanism, or is the missing link still called magic? Carbide studs don't wear down badly, they just reduce traction on pavement. They are not rough-riding or particularly noisy.
owlbeyou
From the inventor of the world's first winter tire?....That's quite a lofty claim.
The logistics of making retractable studs on a tire using a dashboard button is practically incredible. What happens as the tires wear? Good for only one season? Slowburn asks a good question---is the tire cost prohibitive? Besides, studded tires are not as useful in snow. For the few moments that conditions are icy may not be enough to warrant the purchase.
Mel Tisdale
I imagine that the studs are raised pneumatically and as such would be loosely based on the sort of system that some vehicles use to alter tyre pressure from the driver's seat. If fitted as O.E. then the costs would not be prohibitive considering the top of the range vehicles that would have such systems offered, provided that there is sufficient market for them, which there possibly is. Hitting ice, especially black ice, can be fatal and some will pay whatever it takes to avoid such an outcome.
There are ways that a modern, fully equipped (including the latest GPS chips with inbuilt accelerometers), passenger car could even have the raising of the studs automated. But, it might be more of a sales gimmick than anything else (especially seeing as the car would need to begin to skid in order to trigger the mechanism, which might then take too long to operate). Though, that said, there have been times when black ice has caught me out and studded tyres of any kind would have been very welcome. I can, however, confirm that hitting black ice is an excellent cure for constipation.
Anonymous756
I have a set of Nokian Hakkasomethingorother studded tires on my Mercedes E350 4Matic (AWD) - nearly $2k worth. The studs are pretty low profile and the added road noise is minimal, don't even notice. The downside is that the studs are pretty low profile and they can be foiled by a layer of puffy snow over the ice (rare, but it happens).
When conditions match the tires, it's an unbeatable combination. It can be entertaining to blow off SUVs from the lights when roads are greasy.
Ron Olson
This type of tire would really be useful in the state I live in. The increase in safety would translate into better control on icy roads thus decreasing traffic accidents. Living in Michigan we've had our share this winter and many could have been avoided with studded tires. Michigan outlawed them in the late `70's so I don't know how legal these would be.
Sharon Franz
QTires had this idea years ago... http://auto.howstuffworks.com/q-tire.htm Last I heard they were out of business -- hit the market at the wrong time economically, plus had manufacturing issues in China.
David Best
That's funny... I was just thinking about something like this yesterday. It was a lower-tech solution. I guess my hopes of a patent are out the window... not that I thought this sort of thing was a novel idea. One challenge for such a system would be additional unsprung weight, which makes it more difficult to actually keep the tread/studs in contact with the road.