Putting on snow chains is a difficult undertaking – and usually takes place in very uncomfortable conditions. Hyundai wants to eliminate this problem and for the first time presented tires in which the chain extends at the push of a button.
You don’t need them often – but when you do, using them can be torture: snow chains. Even the most innovative solutions require you to stop in the cold, kneel on the ground and somehow try to tighten the chains, ropes or plates around the tires in often difficult conditions. Hyundai has now presented an idea of how the entire process could be eliminated – and is showing a concept for new tires in which the snow chain is already integrated and can be extended at the push of a button.
Hyundai imagines the winter tire revolution like this: Each tire has six grooves that are arranged parallel to the spokes of the wheel. There are thick, snow chain-like wires in the spokes that are retracted in the profile during normal driving and do not come into contact with the asphalt.
Built-in warning system for upcoming tire changes
If the wires do make a noise, writes Hyundai, the minimum tread depth has been reached and the change is due anyway. The fact that you can no longer ignore the worn tire condition should further increase safety.
The embedded wires are partly made of special metals, which can be shaped into different shapes by supplying electricity. So as soon as the road conditions deteriorate or the signs prohibit further travel without chains, you simply press a button in the car and you are on the safe side. The so-called shape memory alloy then presses the wire loop over the profile and turns it into a kind of snow chain. If the conditions improve, the power supply to the wires is cut off and they retreat into the profile.
A long-term project for Hyundai
So far, the new winter wheels only exist on paper – because the entire manufacturing process would have to be turned inside out in order to accommodate the required components in the tires and rims. “This innovation, which we hope will one day be used in Hyundai and Kia vehicles, reflects our commitment to transforming advanced technologies into practical solutions for the benefit of customers,” said Joon Mo Park, head of Hyundai’s advanced chassis development team.
The technology is currently patent pending in both South Korea and the USA. Hyundai Motor and Kia plan to first develop the tires internally, test the different prototypes and then have an official inspection carried out. Only then will the group devote itself to mass production and the challenges mentioned. It will probably be a while before changing snow chains becomes a thing of the past.
I’m a recent graduate of the University of Missouri with a degree in journalism. I started working as a news reporter for 24 Hours World about two years ago, and I’ve been writing articles ever since. My main focus is automotive news, but I’ve also written about politics, lifestyle, and entertainment.