Flat tires and blowouts may soon be a thing of the past, if Michelin’s latest venture pans out. The company has teamed up with General Motors to create the first-ever airless, puncture-proof tires.
Michelin recently unveiled a prototype at the Movin’On Summit in Montreal. Dubbed the Uptis, which is short for “Unique Puncture-Proof Tire System,” the wheel looks like a conventional tire but has a 3D-printed tread structure inside. It doesn’t need to be inflated.
Michelin reports that 200 million tires are thrown away each year because of damage, punctures, and normal wear and tear. So, a puncture-resistant tire could potentially revolutionize the auto industry and help keep motorists — both adults and kids — safe from dangerous tire blowouts and flats. Without the need for compressed air to support the vehicle, the tire can never go flat.
According to a press release, the tires feature “ground-breaking improvements in architecture and composite materials” which allow them to bear the weight of entire cars.
“General Motors is excited about the possibilities that Uptis presents, and we are thrilled to collaborate with Michelin on this breakthrough technology,” GM senior vice president Steve Kiefer said in the release. “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.”
In addition to being good for drivers, Michelin is touting the new tire’s sustainable and eco-friendly design. Uptis tires are reportedly constructed with fewer raw materials that are entirely renewable and bio-sourced. And, because of their imperviousness to punctures, Uptis tires won’t end up in landfills as quickly as conventional tires.
Here’s a video Michelin posted to YouTube about the new tires:
Michelin will try out the new tires on a fleet of Chevrolet Bolt test cars later this year. If all goes well, Michelin and GM will start rolling out passenger vehicles outfitted with Uptis tires as early as 2024.