Modern technology can make some of James Bond’s gadgets from just a decade ago look distinctly old-hat. But one Q-brand trick we’ve not seen yet is winter tires with retractable studs, like the ones seen on Bond’s Aston Martin Vanquish in the movie Die Another Day.
That’s until now, as tire manufacturer Nokian Tyres has revealed a concept tire featuring exactly that technology. On what it says is the 80th anniversary of the winter tire, Nokian has invented a tire that can be changed at the touch of a button from a regular treaded winter tire to a studded one, like those used by rally drivers on ice and snow events, or by Nokian’s own ice speed record-setting Audi RS 6.
The safety benefits are obvious–on regular roads or lightly snowy surfaces, the tires would operate as normal. But on tightly-packed snow or ice, the studs can be activated for extra grip and traction. Negating any issues with a stud puncturing the surface of the tire, each stud is already mounted in the tire tread in its own housing. When activated, a narrower pin slides out of the housing.
The stud isn’t quite as dramatic as those you’d find on rally tires, but it’s enough to provide that extra safety margin in exceptional circumstances–and as Nokian’s video demonstrates, endows the car with decent lateral grip and increased ability to stop even on a sheet of ice.
The stud-equipped Hakkapeliitta 8 SUV winter tire isn’t yet a production reality, butthe company says it could enter production if testing proves successful and there’s sufficient market demand for it.