SEOUL, Feb. 8, 2024 — Winter weather conditions can often raise valid concerns for road travel. In the event of a sudden blizzard, snow chains become essential for safety.

However, the aged-old chore of attaching and detaching snow chains can be an irritating hassle, one that could result in vehicle damage if not done properly.

To address this inconvenience, Hyundai Motor Group (the Group) has developed snow-chain integrated tires using shape-memory alloys, which aims to alleviate the challenges associated with traditional snow chains, ensuring enhanced safety and ease of use.

The Group announced late last year that it filed patents in both Korea and the United States, with plans underway to review production feasibility after further durability and performance testing.

Snow-Chain Integrated Tires

In the snow-chain integrated tire system that utilizes shape-memory alloys, the tires and wheels are equipped with grooves that effectively secure the chain straps. The technology takes advantage of the shape memory alloy’s ability to return to its original shape when an electric current is applied.

When the snow chains are not in use, the chain straps are discreetly hidden inside the tire’s outer diameter. With a convenient button press from inside the vehicle, the snow chains extend outward from the tire and wheel, allowing for effortless activation when needed.

During normal driving, the shape-memory alloy located inside the wheel is compressed into the shape of the letter “L” without contacting the road surface.

When the driver activates the function, an electric current is applied, causing the shape-memory alloy to revert to its original “J” shape, thus pushing the module (a combination of the shape-memory alloy and chain strap) out of the tire to make contact with the road.



Saving Time and Effort

There are many advantages to using snow-chain integrated tires.

One is that the purchase of separate snow chains is simply unnecessary.

Second, it eliminates the need to get out of the car and fit the snow chains manually, which means there’s also no need to remove them.

Just as it is challenging to accurately predict the start of heavy snow, it is equally difficult to determine when the snow will stop. Driving with snow chains on dry roads can potentially damage the vehicle. However, with snow-chain integrated tires, drivers can conveniently add or remove snow chains with a simple press of a button.

If the surface of the tire is worn down to the module in normal driving mode due to severe tire wear, drivers can easily detect this and ensure they replace the tire within the recommended interval.

As with snow chains currently on the market, the materials used in the chain strap of the snow-chain integrated tire can also be tailored for different types of vehicles. For a passenger car, plastic can be used for strength and durability, or non-woven fabric can be used for superior comfort. For a heavy-duty commercial vehicle, on the other hand, steel is a stronger and more durable option, at the expense of ride quality.