Composite airless car tires in five years
Within five years, cars will feature airless tires, if it were up to Michelin and GM. The companies recently unveiled their prototype, called Uptis.
Normal car tires are inflated to absorb impact, but a major design flaw are punctures, which cause flat tires or even blowouts. Flat tires lead to frustrations, material waste and dangerous situations. Approximately 200 million tires worldwide are scrapped prematurely every year as a result of punctures, damage from road hazards or improper air pressure that causes uneven wear.
An airless concept would eliminate the risk are punctures, as well as the need to check the pressure every now and then. No punctures also means less material waste and less raw materials necessary to manufacture new tires. The tires are designed in such a way that they can absorb impact and return to their original shape.
In 2017 Michelin introduced its vision for airless tires, a customisable, 3D printed concept tire made of biodegradable material (read more about it here). That vision seems not yet, possible so Michelin introduced the next best thing: an airless tire made from composite material.
Michelin teamed up with GM to make airless tires part of passenger cars in 2024, starting with vehicles like the Chevrolet Bolt EV.
According to Michelin, “The Uptis Prototype is re-engineered for today’s passenger vehicles, and it is also well suited to emerging forms of mobility. The vehicles and fleets of tomorrow — whether autonomous, all electric, shared service or other applications — will demand near-zero maintenance from the tire to maximize their operating capabilities.”
Currently, the tire is just a concept. Later this year, the companies with initiate real-world testing of Uptis on a test fleet of Bolt EV vehicles in Michigan.