It'll happen way sooner than you think.
We've known that Michelin has been developing what'll essentially be an airless tire for a few years now. Major advances such as this require time and lots of testing before mainstream production can be discussed, but a new CNN report claims that's exactly what's happening. GM is said to holding serious talks with the tire manufacturer about developing those airless tires for the next-generation Chevrolet Bolt EV.
"We want to bring the next generation of the Chevrolet Bolt with airless tires," Alexis Garcin, president of Michelin North America said. "And it's going to happen now in the next three to five years." This means that for the first time in 130 years, a new vehicle won't require having air in its tires.
That's huge and it could change the entire auto industry as a whole going forward, assuming additional makes and models adopt the technology. GM, for now, has not confirmed whether this mystery model will retain the Bolt nameplate. The Detroit automaker did acknowledge it's working on a variety of new and affordable EVs that'll carry an affordable price tag.
For reference, the Bolt normally carries a starting price of $32,500 before tax credits. But this is currently irrelevant because of the stop-sale order and recall still in place due to potential battery fires. What we can say with confidence is that the Bolt successor will utilize the new Ultium architecture and new (and hopefully fire-proof) batteries.
At present, GM and Michelin are continuing to test these airless tires on the current Bolt. Called the Michelin Uptis, these airless tires began development over a decade ago. Like we said, advancements like this require lots of time. The puncture-proof tires consist of belts and spokes made of highly durable fiberglass. Michelin has patented this technology for obvious reasons.
Along with being extremely beneficial and safe for consumers (no blowouts!), airless tires are also more environmentally-friendly. Once their lifecycle comes to an end, the materials can be recycled as opposed to what often happens with conventional rubber tires.