Time to stop worrying about tire pressure?
The idea of an airless tire is not new. Michelin, for example, revealed a concept design for one years ago, but it never made it to a production passenger vehicle. That could soon change. Michelin and General Motors have teamed up to develop a new generation of airless wheel technology, dubbed the Michelin Uptis Prototype, which reportedly eliminates flats and blowouts. And because no rubber is used, this new type of "tire” can significantly help reduce the use of raw materials and waste, which comes in handy for GM’s vision for a world with zero crashes, zero emissions, and zero congestion.
The Uptis is composed of a typical exterior tread with an inner aluminum wheel, the latter containing spokes in place of air pressure. These spokes are made of a rubber and fiberglass reinforced resin combination.
Michelin initially developed the Uptis before teaming up with GM for further development. Chevrolet Bolts are now being used as test vehicles with the tires equipped. GM, however, has not announced which future model will offer the new tires, but an EV such as the Bolt is a good bet. The aim is to introduce the airless tire on a production vehicle by 2024.
Additional things worth noting is that this airless tire tech reduces the number of punctured or damaged tires that are scrapped prior to even reaching the end of their life cycle (hence GM’s interest in eliminating unnecessary waste). They can also reduce the use of raw materials, energy for production and emissions linked to the manufacture of spare tires and replacement tires.
Equally important is that they also last longer by eliminating irregular wear and tear caused by over- and under-inflation. Above all, they also reduce the dangers involving flats and blowouts.
"General Motors is excited about the possibilities that Uptis presents, and we are thrilled to collaborate with Michelin on this breakthrough technology,” said Steve Kiefer, senior vice president, Global Purchasing and Supply Chain, General Motors. "Uptis is an ideal fit for propelling the automotive industry into the future and a great example of how our customers benefit when we collaborate and innovate with our supplier partners.”