A Finnish company called Nokian Tires has developed an innovative winter tire technology called a “non-studded winter tire with studs.” Although this is still just a concept, these Nokian tires feature a unique tread where metal studs are able to retract in and out of the tire to adapt to different road conditions.
Using a Nokian studded Hakkapeliitta winter tire as a base, Nokian modified the hard metal pin in the middle of the stud to be able to retract in and out of the tire. At the push of a button inside the car, the driver can either bring out the studs to improve grip on ice, or retract the studs when they are not needed on dry roads. Then, the tire functions as a typical, non-studded winter tire.
Back in 2008, a company called Q Tires came up with a similar idea for a retractable studded tire, but those tires never became a reality. Now that this idea is backed by a more established tire company, it seems to us like a more realistic possibility.
If these Nokian tires come to fruition, they could provide an interesting alternative to traditional winter tires. Many states currently have regulations in place for the use of studded tires, such as an allowance of rubber studs only, or allowing the use of metal studs only on thick ice or snow. Presumably, a retractable studded tire would be able to escape these regulations and give drivers the best of both worlds.
Stay tuned for more news from Nokian about this interesting tire concept, and see the video below for a demonstration of these tires in action.