Hyundai and Kia reveal new snow chain tyre technology | CAR Magazine

Hyundai and Kia reveal new snow chain tyre technology

Published: 11 December 2023 Updated: 11 December 2023

► New tyre tech for snowy conditions
► Uses alloy modules that stick out from tyre
► Patent pending, but set for mass production

Snow chains may not be common or essential for drivers in the UK, but if you’d like some extra help to fortify your tyre grip when it snows, Hyundai Motor and Kia have come up with a solution.

The two manufacturers have unveiled a new snow chain-integrated tyre technology that can deploy alloy snow chains at the push of a button to maximise tyre traction in snowy or icy conditions.

How does the technology work?

The tyres feature radial grooves at regular intervals around their outer edge. Housed within these grooves are shape memory alloy modules that are compressed under normal driving conditions so they don’t touch the road and the tyre surface is smooth.

However, when road grip is compromised by heavy snow, an electric current will activate the modules so they protrude out from the surface of the tyre, providing more contact with the road surface to maximise traction.  

Once back under normal conditions and with the electric current switched off, the shape-memory alloys will return to their original position, retracting back into the tyre grooves to reinstate a flush surface.

Is it coming soon?

The technology is patent pending in South Korea and the United States. Hyundai Motor and Kia haven’t announced an expected release date, or even which cars the tyres may be found on, but they have declared their plans to mass-produce the tyres after more research and technological development.

Traditional snow chains are fiddly (Getty)

If successful, it’ll remove one of the fiddliest jobs known to motoringkind: the application of snow chains (above).

‘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 Hyundai’s head of advanced chassis development, Joon Mo Park.

‘We will continue to develop technologies that enhance safety and convenience of our vehicles and bring value to our customers.’

By Seth Walton

Staff writer at CAR and our sister website Parkers, specialising in ownership and car advice