General Motors and Michelin are bringing the next generation of car tires. And no they won’t have any air in them! In mid-2019, the two car giants revealed a novel generation of wheel technology where the tires of cars will be made airless. They have named it UPTIS (Unique Puncture-proof Tire System).
While the companies only unveiled the prototype, they are expected to release the airless tires for common usage by 2024. Steve Kiefer had mentioned in a statement: “General Motors is excited about the possibilities that Uptis presents, and we are thrilled to collaborate with Michelin on this breakthrough technology.” Kiefer’s the senior vice president of the global purchasing and supply chain of General Motors.
These high-tech airless tires will be immune to flats, unlike their rubber counterparts. This will result in better safety of passengers and it will also cut down on regular activities like checking the air pressure, puncture inspections, etc.
UPTIS tires don’t suffer wear and tear and hence last longer. This contributes to sustainability as well – less number of tires end up in scraps, and raw materials, as well as the energy that go into production, are also scaled down.
Florent Menegaux, Michelin’s CEO mentions: “Uptis demonstrates that Michelin’s vision for a future of sustainable mobility is clearly an achievable dream. Through work with strategic partners like GM … we can seize the future today.”
Michelin has a 4-pillar strategy targeted at sustainable mobility and the airless tire prototype is a part of this VISION concept.
Although the prototype has been unveiled, the details of UPTIS are not yet revealed. Neither of the companies is willing to share how this airless wheel technology would work. In a cryptic FAQ, Michelin has noted that UPTIS “shares some design concepts” with Tweel technology. Tweel is a tire-wheel assembly that contains “spokes” to carry the load, a shear beam outer ring, etc.
The airless tire is expected to debut with Chevrolet Bolt Electric Vehicles in Michigan later in 2020.
Images: Steve Fecht/General Motors