It’s been a long time coming, but the first wave of commercial air-free tyres is finally set to make its debut. Michelin has announced an ambitious partnership with General Motors in the United States, with the goal of bringing the all-new Unique Puncture-Proof Tire System (UPTIS) into mainstream production by 2024.
When the new tyres hit the roads, they won’t look anything like the tyres you’ve seen to date.
The remarkable UPTIS prototype is already being heavily tested in controlled conditions behind the scenes. So far, Michelin and General Motors have only tested the new system on the Chevrolet Bolt. However, they insist that testing processes will be brought into the real world by the end of 2019.
As for the motivation, tyre companies worldwide have been researching and developing air-free tyre technology for some time. The elimination of air immediately eliminates any and all consequences of unexpected blow-outs. Not to mention, breakdowns and journey interruptions due to punctures. Michelin also claims that airless systems like UPTIS are fundamentally safer and more economical in general than conventional tyres.
Airless tyre technology can also work wonders for the environment. As it stands, at least 20% of tyres scrapped each year are retired from use due to blowouts. With airless tyres, the overwhelming majority would be guaranteed to last for several years, without needing to be replaced or repaired.
The project is technically still in its prototype phase, but the two companies are confident we’ll be seeing the final product on public roads worldwide by 2024.
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