Hyundai and Kia have announced the development of a new tire with integrated snow chains that can be deployed at the push of a button. The new technology uses shape memory alloy modules integral to the wheel and tire which can be deployed to act as snow chains with an electrical signal.
Unlike traditional snow chains, which are often complicated to install and remove, this technology deploys automatically without need of the driver exiting the vehicle.
“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 Advanced Chassis Development Team. “We will continue to develop technologies that enhance safety and convenience of our vehicles and bring value to our customers.”
The technology consists of a wheel and tire assembly that features radial grooves at regular intervals. Modules made of shape memory alloy are inserted into those channels. When dormant, the alloy is away from the tire tread, sunk below it to avoid contact with the roadway. When deployed with an electric current, the shape memory alloy assumes its original shape, rising up to just beyond the tread to act as a metal snow chain. Each wheel has several of these installed, making for an intermittent ice breaker just as standard snow chains would.
The technology is patent pending in both South Korea and the United States. This helpful video from Hyundai and Kia explains the technology visually. Durability, performance and other testing of the tech will begin soon with hopes of mass production coming down the line.