Earlier this year, Michelin and General Motors announced their plan to develop a new airless tire called the Uptis (Unique Puncture-proof Tire System).
Michelin is no newbie when it comes to (airless) non-pneumatic tires. The company unveiled its first airless tire, “Tweel”, in 2005. Early reports noted that it was noisy & vibrated at high speeds. It is currently utilized in riding lawnmowers and golf carts.
Uptis will be used in passenger vehicles; it will be tested on Chevrolet Bolt EVs. A step towards sustainable mobility, the tire is 3D-printed and built using composite rubber & fiberglass embedded with high-strength resin. If successful, it’ll reduce the need to produce pneumatic tires, which is an extremely polluting process by itself. Compared to regular tires, it will last longer as it reduces the possibility of irregular wear & tear, and won’t necessitate any pressure control.
It is believed that this will eliminate the risks of a flat tire or blowout; and will reduce the need for maintenance checks & rotations. However, there are concerns that airless tires may trap more heat than its conventional counterpart. Additionally, by using spokes, there is a chance that debris like mud may get stuck in it, which could result in imbalance. Airless tires may even create an issue with suspension — pneumatic tires usually absorb shock as there is air in the tires, without them you’re in for a bumpy ride.
The future of non-pneumatic tires seems exciting, and we are looking forward to the release of Uptis in 2024.