In the midst one of the most grueling winters in recent years, many motorists likely wish that at the push of a button they could give their tires extra grip, without having to swap tires, chains or otherwise make repeated visits to Discount Tire.
Now, thanks to a Finnish company, that may soon be possible.
On the 80th anniversary of the winter tire, Nokian has revealed its latest concept — a "non-studded" winter tire with retractable studs. The driver merely presses a button within the car to raise metal pins in the tread, turning ordinary winter tires into ones capable of handling Mother Nature at her worst. Or even Finland.
Utilizing a Nokian studded Hakkapeliitta tire, the company modified the hard metal pin in the middle of the stud to retract in and out, leaving the main body to remain in place. And while it remains a concept, Nokian says it's the future of winter tires — a future that might not be too far away.
The idea of retractable studs has been around since 2008, but Nokian is the first to make it a viable solution, thanks to its title as one of the world's leading tire manufacturers. The advantages of such a product are evident — you only deploy the studs when you need them, like on icy or hilly terrain, leaving you with regular winter tires when the surface improves. Various states exert regulations on studded tires, stating when and where metal studs may be used and in some cases only allow rubber studs — creating a few potential legal hurdles.
Winter tires alone do a fine job providing grip in suboptimal conditions, and in most cases, it's all a driver needs. However, as we've seen throughout this winter, even the hardiest of vehicles in the most unlikely of locations have needed a helping hand in thick ice or on slippery slopes. What would be better than getting unstuck without ever leaving your car?