Have you ever had a flat tire? If not, consider yourself lucky. For the rest of us, finding a flat is a major nuisance – if not an all out disaster, depending on where they occur. A flat tire in your driveway is not a big deal, but having one alongside the highway in the middle of the night, is a serious safety concern.
General Motors and Michelin have been working together to reinvent the wheel, or at least the tire around it with a new design that takes air out of the equation. The global automaker and tire manufacturer will begin testing an airless tire, called Uptis, on a fleet of Chevrolet Bolt electric cars later this year
These tires have several benefits beyond eliminating flats and blowouts. If ultimately brought to market, they will reduce scrap related to damaged tires, minimize the use of raw materials employed in tire manufacturing, and provide a tire that lasts longer by eliminating irregular wear and tear caused by under-inflation.
If all goes to plan with on-road trials, GM and Michelin aim to bring the airless tire to market for passenger cars in 2024. It may not be a complete reinvention of the wheel, but it’s very close – and a great advancement in convenience, safety, and environmental impact.