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Kumho's Futuristic Fortis is an SUV with an EV Twist

By on August 4, 2009 3:39 PM
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Korean tiremaker Kumho has devised this intriguing one-off sport utility of tomorrow that combines sustainable content and a zero-emissions powertrain with tires that offer a unique driver-adjustable tread pattern. The Fortis was conceived by UK-based Rob Dolton, Kumho's in-house designer whose resume also includes a stint with Fiat Advanced Design in Turin, Italy. It's based on a modular platform fitted with an independently controlled 100-horsepower motor at each wheel that's energized by a rechargeable/swappable Lithium-ion battery pack and augmented by regenerative braking. The exterior of this edgy 21st century on/off-roader is largely composed of panels made from reprocessed tire rubber while the styling of its lighting elements was influenced by Korean glass sculptures. Arguably the most innovative aspect of the Fortis is seen in its tires, which are capable of adapting to different surface condition at the touch of a button. These revolutionary rollers match solid polyurethane sidewalls with a central tread area that can be pneumatically inflated/deflated to reveal a series of metal "biters." These articulated ground grippers can be fully exposed to enhance traction and durability when the vehicle is travelling off-road but retracted and covered by rubber to optimize comfort and vehicle dynamics while lowering noise levels on paved surfaces. For the moment, like the Fortis, they remain on Kuhmo's "to-do someday" list.

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