Michelin has been researching what it would take to bring a pressure-free tire to market for years and now, in partnership with General Motors, the company is saying we might see these Uptis tires on the road as soon as 2024.
Designed for passenger cars and small SUVs, Uptis (Michelin calls it an “airless mobility solution”) takes an aluminum wheel assembly and wraps it in a composite material mixing rubber and a high-strength resin embedded fiberglass. Instead of an air-filled rubber tube, a series of “spokes” hold the weight of the car and provide similar handling and performance to a standard, air-filled pneumatic tire, says Michelin.
Airless tech reduces the need for environmentally harmful tire production, and eliminates the need for a spare tire that adds weight and shrinks fuel economy. They’d also help autonomous vehicles drive around the clock without fear that a stray nail will ruin a trip.
Similar to how semi-truck tires are recapped, Michelin envisions that a brand new 3D-printed tread could be installed in an existing airless tire, reducing raw materials and energy spent building entirely new tires. Michelin claims this production cycle could eliminate an estimated 200 million tire replacements every year.