Airless tyres could be fitted to new cars within the next five years.

The MICHELIN Uptis Prototype (or “Unique Puncture-proof Tyre System”) debuted at the Movin’On Summit for sustainable mobility.

GM intends to develop this airless wheel assembly with Michelin and aims to introduce it on passenger vehicles as early as 2024.

Later this year, GM will initiate real-world testing and validation of the Uptis Prototype on a Michigan test fleet of Chevrolet Bolt EVs.

“General Motors is excited about the possibilities that Uptis presents, and we are thrilled to collaborate with Michelin on this breakthrough technology,” GM’s Steve Kiefer said.

“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.”

With the development of the new technology the tyre will come full circle.

The first rubber tyres were solid rubber.

Michelin has been working on an integrated tyre and wheel combination, the “Tweel” — since 2005.

Initial prototypes demonstrated flaws, with regard to noise and high speed vibration, and produced five percent more friction than a regular tyre.

Subsequent prototypes have been shown to be well behaved and reliable.

To demonstrate the Tweel’s viability, three Tweel-equipped vehicles successfully participated in the entire 2013 Hot Rod Power Tour long distance road trip event in June 2013 — a 2012 Honda CR-Z, a resto-modded 1955 Morris Minor Traveller, and an Aluma brand trailer hauling a Polaris ATV. 

The current Uptis Prototype eliminates flats and blowouts, but there’s no mention of how the tyre handles or whether it will be suitable for widespread use.

Michelin says Uptis offers significant potential for reducing the use of raw materials and waste, contributing to GM’s vision for a world with zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion.

The prototype:

  • Reduces the number of punctured or damaged tyres that are scrapped before reaching the end of their life cycle.
  • Reduces the use of raw materials, energy for production and emissions linked to the manufacture of spare tyres and replacement tyres that are no longer required.
  • Lasts longer by eliminating irregular wear and tear caused by over- or under-inflation.
  • Reduces dangers related to flats and blowouts.

 

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Riley

Chris Riley has been a journalist for almost 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.