"Michelin, GM Unveil Airless Tires That Eliminate Flats, Reduce Waste" by Stephanie Mlot, Geek.com 6/5/2019
Michelin and General Motors are taking the air out of tires—literally.
The manufacturers this week unveiled a new generation of airless wheel technology, known as Uptis (Unique Puncture-proof Tire System).
Still in the prototype phase, this high-tech tire could roll out to passenger vehicles as early as 2024.
“General Motors is excited about the possibilities that Uptis presents, and we are thrilled to collaborate with Michelin on this breakthrough technology,” Steve Kiefer, senior vice president of GM’s global purchasing and supply chain, said in a statement.
Unlike traditional rubber tires, airless technology makes Uptis immune to flats and blowouts, reducing danger to passengers, and eliminating the need for regular maintenance like pressure checks and puncture inspections.
It also yields massive sustainability benefits by decreasing the number of tires condemned to scrap and scaling back raw materials and energy used in production.
Plus, without wear and tear from over- or under-inflation, Uptis tires simply last longer.
“Uptis demonstrates that Michelin’s vision for a future of sustainable mobility is clearly an achievable dream,” CEO Florent Menegaux said. “Through work with strategic partners like GM … we can seize the future today.”
Part of the French manufacturer’s VISION concept—a four-pillar strategy for research and development in sustainable mobility—this prototype is a first step in the right direction.
Actual details of Uptis, however, remain a mystery. Between the self-congratulatory pats on the back and flashy jargon, neither Michelin nor GM has revealed anything about the inner workings of airless wheel technology.
What are the tires made of? How do they operate? What differences, if any, will drivers notice?
In an FAQ [PDF download] published by Michelin, the company notes that Uptis “shares some design concepts” with its Tweel technology: a tire-wheel assembly, “spokes” that carry the load, and a shear beam outer ring, among others.
I have no idea what that means.
Neither Michelin nor General Motors immediately responded to Geek’s request for comment.
GM expects to begin real-world testing of the Uptis prototype in Michigan later this year, with a fleet of Chevrolet Bolt EVs.