Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Corporation have presented a new snow chain-integrated tire technology to make it easier to stay safe in winter driving conditions. The new innovation will save time as drivers don’t have to load snow chains and improve safety in sudden, heavy snowfall.
According to their announcement, the snow chain-integrated tire technology uses shape memory alloy modules that are installed inside the wheel and tire. These modules can protrude to act as a snow chain when an electrical signal is received.
The best part is that this technology is effortless to operate, unlike traditional snow chains that are complicated to install and remove. It will automatically deploy shape memory alloy snow chains at the push of a button, helping to improve safety in snowy conditions. This could be a game-changer for drivers who often struggle with traditional snow chains that are complicated to install and remove.
“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 the safety and convenience of our vehicles and bring value to our customers.”
The snow chain-integrated tire technology consists of a wheel and tire assembly that involves radial grooves at regular intervals with modules made of shape memory alloy inserted into the channels.
This technology takes advantage of the shape memory alloy’s ability to return to its original shape when the 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 activates the function, an electric current is applied, causing the shape memory alloy to revert to its original profile. The material forms a ‘J’ shape, which pushes the module out of the tire to make contact with the surface, improving grip, stability, and safety when driving on snowy roads.
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 recognize this degradation so as not to miss the tire replacement cycle. The technology is patent-pending in both South Korea and the U.S. Hyundai Motor and Kia plan to consider mass production of the tires after further technological development, durability and performance tests, and regulation reviews.