Anyone who’s fitted snow chains never, ever wants to do it again. New technology from Hyundai and Kia might make that a reality.
The prototype tyre unit features radial, evenly-spaced grooves housing metal elements that can be deployed or retracted on demand.
Although they don’t cover the entire wheel like traditional chains, they promise to offer more traction on slippery surfaces in places like Australia where it’s mandatory to carry snow chains in alpine areas – but you rarely need to actually fit them.
Hyundai says the “shape memory alloy” metal inserts in the tyres can be activated and deactivated whenever is required. It’s not clear what impact the radial grooves in the tyres might have on ride or NVH, nor whether the chains will be impacted by sticks, stones, and road grime.
“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, head of Hyundai Motor Group’s chassis development team.
“We will continue to develop technologies that enhance safety and convenience of our vehicles and bring value to our customers.”