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Nokian develops winter tires with retractable studs


February 18, 2014

The studs in their extended state

The studs in their extended state

Image Gallery (6 images)

Studded tires may make it easier to drive on ice, but those same studs will quickly wear down when used on dry asphalt – plus, they'll create a very rough, noisy ride. The problem is, most winter drivers encounter both types of road conditions, often even on the same trip. That's why Nokian has created a snow tire with retractable studs.

Currently just a demo project, the tire is a variation on the existing Nokian Hakkapeliitta 8 SUV studded winter tire. Instead of that tire's permanently-deployed studs, however, the new one features studs with a flat housing that remains in place, from within which a hard metal pin can be raised or lowered.

The idea is that drivers could activate the studs on all four wheels from within the vehicle when approaching icy patches, simply by pressing a button. When conditions improved, they could withdraw them again.

Although there's no hard word on commercial availability, Nokian has stated that "The unique stud concept may indeed become a reality one day." The tires can be seen in action in the video below.

Source: Nokian via DamnGeeky

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

Do they have a proposed mechanism, or is the missing link still called magic? Carbide studs don't wear down badly, they just reduce traction on pavement. They are not rough-riding or particularly noisy.

Bob Stuart

I have a set of Nokian Hakkasomethingorother studded tires on my Mercedes E350 4Matic (AWD) - nearly $2k worth. The studs are pretty low profile and the added road noise is minimal, don't even notice. The downside is that the studs are pretty low profile and they can be foiled by a layer of puffy snow over the ice (rare, but it happens).

When conditions match the tires, it's an unbeatable combination. It can be entertaining to blow off SUVs from the lights when roads are greasy.


Had this idea 5 years ago. Question is do they have a working product, or just a video?


I hope these are released soon. I know I would buy a set. Imagine the decrease in accidents! Maybe they could work on some sort of self deployment system.


The cost has got to outweigh the usefulness.


From the inventor of the world's first winter tire?....That's quite a lofty claim.

The logistics of making retractable studs on a tire using a dashboard button is practically incredible. What happens as the tires wear? Good for only one season? Slowburn asks a good question---is the tire cost prohibitive? Besides, studded tires are not as useful in snow. For the few moments that conditions are icy may not be enough to warrant the purchase.


I imagine that the studs are raised pneumatically and as such would be loosely based on the sort of system that some vehicles use to alter tyre pressure from the driver's seat. If fitted as O.E. then the costs would not be prohibitive considering the top of the range vehicles that would have such systems offered, provided that there is sufficient market for them, which there possibly is. Hitting ice, especially black ice, can be fatal and some will pay whatever it takes to avoid such an outcome.

There are ways that a modern, fully equipped (including the latest GPS chips with inbuilt accelerometers), passenger car could even have the raising of the studs automated. But, it might be more of a sales gimmick than anything else (especially seeing as the car would need to begin to skid in order to trigger the mechanism, which might then take too long to operate). Though, that said, there have been times when black ice has caught me out and studded tyres of any kind would have been very welcome. I can, however, confirm that hitting black ice is an excellent cure for constipation.

Mel Tisdale

This type of tire would really be useful in the state I live in. The increase in safety would translate into better control on icy roads thus decreasing traffic accidents. Living in Michigan we've had our share this winter and many could have been avoided with studded tires. Michigan outlawed them in the late `70's so I don't know how legal these would be.

Ron Olson

QTires had this idea years ago... http://auto.howstuffworks.com/q-tire.htm Last I heard they were out of business -- hit the market at the wrong time economically, plus had manufacturing issues in China.

Sharon Franz

That's funny... I was just thinking about something like this yesterday. It was a lower-tech solution. I guess my hopes of a patent are out the window... not that I thought this sort of thing was a novel idea. One challenge for such a system would be additional unsprung weight, which makes it more difficult to actually keep the tread/studs in contact with the road.

David Best

James Bond had these on his car in the movie Die Another Day, back in 2002.


I can see how this would work using existing technology in the the top of the lines cars with systems to detect tire pressure or even add air if tire pressure is low. The idea set up would take the human out of the loop and have a smart chip in the tire deploy the studs when they are needed and detract them when not needed. Surely as expensive as tires are these days it could not add considerably more to the price. After all electronics are going down in price rubber is going up. I hope to see this product available soon.

James Turner

As the ex-Marketing Director of Q Tires, I'm happy to see another company picking up the reigns on a retractable studded tire design. We worked hard on getting laws amended in states that banned studded tires and were close to starting manufacturing before economic conditions strangled us.

At first glance I have an issue with this tire design. With a bit of tire wear the studs will be touching the road in the retracted state which will increase your braking distance. What happens with a lot of tire wear? How are the studs deployed pneumatic, mechanical, etc. There's still work to be done here but I applauded the effort.


Expensive tires would be used longer than they should be; purchasing cheap tires often is the best answer for traction. Most people do NOT replace their tires every Fall.

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