Hyundai Has Made A Tyre With Deployable Snow Chain Tech

Fumbling in the cold and scraping knuckles when fitting snow chains will soon be a thing of the past, thanks to Hyundai. 

While Tesla may be the undisputed king of developing gimmicks for cars, the one that is however actually developing some legitimately cool automotive tech right now is instead Hyundai. 

This is after all the automaker that has lately come up with such things as an Intelligent Variable Transmission (IVT), not to mention too a totally revolutionary integrated EV wheel drive system. Though in terms of coolness, nothing really comes close to its newly introduced (and almost James Bond-esque) automatically-deployable snow chain-integrated tire technology. 

Touted to make it easier to stay safe in winter driving conditions, this snow chain-integrated tire essentially is a wheel and tire assembly that feature radial grooves at regular intervals (like a pizza) with modules made of shape memory alloy inserted into these channels. The cool bit of tech here is its shape memory alloy modules that are located inside the wheel and tire which, at the push of a button, will apparently see these modules automatically protrude to act as a ‘snow chain’ when an electrical signal is received. 

According to Hyundai, this technology works by taking advantage of the shape memory alloy’s ability to return to its original shape when an electric current is applied. During normal driving, the shape memory alloy located inside the wheel is compressed into the shape of the letter ‘L’ and does not contact the road surface. 

When the driver requires additional grip in snowy conditions meanwhile activates the function, an electric current is applied, causing the shape memory alloy to revert to its original protruding  profile — the material forms a ‘J’ shape — and hence the module out of the tire to make contact with the surface, improving grip, stability and safety on snowy roads. A video better illustrating the workings of this technology can be found linked here.

If the surface of the tire is worn down to the height of the module in normal driving mode due to severe tire wear, drivers can easily recognise this degradation so as not miss the tyre replacement cycle. As for when such a tyre will meet the road on a production car, this technology is currently still patent-pending in both South Korea and the U.S, with plans to consider mass production of the tires only to come after further technological development, durability and performance tests and regulation reviews.

“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 Advanced Chassis Development Team. “We will continue to develop technologies that enhance safety and convenience of our vehicles and bring value to our customers.”

Joshua Chin

Automotive journalist. Professional work on and Personal writing found at Instagram: @driveeveryday

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