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Tire shoots out retractable studs on the fly to improve winter grip

Finnish company shows concept tire that exposes metal studs at the push of a button for added traction in snow and ice.

By Douglas Newcomb Feb 14, 2014 8:41AM

Nokian concept tire. Image by Nokian.With all the snow, ice and slush hitting roads across the country -- even parts of the Deep South, where drivers almost never have to deal with such conditions -- studded tires with small metal protrusions that improve traction on slippery road surfaces seem like a great idea.

But studs can quickly wear out paved roads, so not everyone is as thrilled by the idea, like in Oregon and Washington where they were just recently made legal. Some states -- and even sunny Puerto Rico -- have banned them outright, whereas others place restrictions on the use of studded tires, such as only allowing them on certain vehicles and only in winter.

Since studded tires are only necessary when roads are at their wintertime worst, the Finnish company Nokian, which developed the first winter tire in 1934, has come up with a concept that offers a compromise: retractable studs at the press of a button.

The concept is based on Nokian's new Hakkapeliitta 8 SUV studded winter tire. An informational video about  the tire shows a button on the steering wheel that the driver presses to expose the metal studs in inclement weather and presses again when the roads are clear of snow and ice to retract the studs. The company also said that the studs on all four tires raise and lower at the same time.

Whether the tires will ever come to market -- and whether state DOTs that ban metal studs will allow the Nokian concept on its roads -- remains to be seen. Whether your vehicle has studded or nonstudded tires, the most important element of staying safe on snow- and ice-covered roads doesn’t come down to rubber or metal or some combination of the two. It comes down to driving safely in winter conditions -- and slowing down.

[Source: Nokian]
Feb 17, 2014 2:46PM

@ Frosty:

I live in Alaska and I disagree with your statement that they don't reduce stopping distance on ice. 


Now with that said, I don't waste my money on studs either.  It isn't worth the hassle and expense of swapping them out every spring and fall.  Rather than spending all that money on 2 sets of tires and either a second set of rims (per car), or spending $200 a year (2 cars) on mounting and balancing fees, my wife and I just don't drive like a moron when it's icy.


I save my moronic driving for summe rtime in my Corvette!

Feb 14, 2014 11:25AM
Living in the Rocky Mountains I can tell you not to waste your money on studs. The ONLY thing they might help a little with is getting started from a dead stop on pure ice, they will not help the vehicle stop better or handle better. MUCH better off to spend your money on Blizzak tires or something similar with lots of siping to grip ice better.
Feb 18, 2014 5:01AM

great idea as it wouldn't hurt roads when ice and snow on the ground and probbally save more lives out here and I think that's the most important ,roads can be fixed we pay enough for them,but you cant fix a person sliding on ice in a bad accident

Feb 16, 2014 10:46AM
Yes Rocky Mountain guy I used to live there also. Studded are only good on ice, when I was back East we had more ice almost then anything. They did pay off but had to take them off in summer, that's OK didn't want to wreck the roads. Also all the jock trucks with 2 ft wide tires go no where in snow or mud they just float, as the rocky mountain guy will tell you...
Feb 16, 2014 4:59PM
I have studded winter tires. Love 'em. They turned my car into a tank which can go just about anywhere, even in deep snow.
Feb 18, 2014 9:14AM
This company has a great market in equipping emergency vehicles.
Feb 22, 2014 10:07AM
Studs do help but don't drive like you have them cause you will over drive as indicated by some responses on here but you do need them on front as well for steering and braking the front end does most of the stopping. If you don't plan on driving much when the snow is on ground just plan that way and get by with out, as they do require time and expense , I needed them, a set would last 2 or 3 winters and if they would not I would just pull the studs out and get a new set come winter
Feb 18, 2014 5:00PM
cool everybody in Dayton oh needs them since the city wont plow or SALT there streets
Mar 27, 2014 8:07AM
Sometime back in the late 60's or early 70's one of the tire companies came up with an alternative to studded winter tires that had coil spring wires embedded in the tread. The tips of the spring wires would protrude slightly and give increased traction on ice, without the noise or road damage of the studs, and the wires would gradually wear down as the tread rubber wore down. Does anyone remember these and what company made them and ar they still available?
Feb 22, 2014 8:16PM
Seems the problem here in the south when we have snow is the morons from up north. They can drive on snow(as least that is what they say) so they drive like a maniac and think they are smart. Well, first, we don't have snow. We usually have rain, then the road gets wet, then it freezes and gets black ice and then the snow comes. Saw this happen twice already in 2014.  The Northerner's thought they could drive like normal and ended up wrecked or in the ditch. The locals drove like they had some sense and make it with no problem. I have been around it for 65 years and driving on it for 49 years and I still don't like it and respect it. I also use a 4 wheel drive Jeep and take it slow and easy. Where I might be going make take longer, but it will still be there when I get there. Best thing is to really stay inside. Also, when the roads are plowed here and the temp is real low, then the ice is really exposed. I think the studded tires would help with grip if the driver also has brains.
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