Taking the air out of tires would sound like an absurd idea, right? However, that is exactly what Michelin and General Motors are doing. The manufacturers have recently shown off a new generation of airless wheel technology that has been termed Uptis.
Uptis stands for Unique Puncture-proof Tire system. It is currently still in the prototype phase; however it might make its way to the customers as soon as 2024. Steve Kiefer, senior vice president of GM’s global purchasing and supply chain, said, ‘General Motors is excited about the possibilities that Uptis presents, and we are thrilled to collaborate with Michelin on this breakthrough technology.’
As opposed to the conventional rubber tires, the airless technology renders Uptis immune to blow-outs and flats. This enables Uptis to considerably reduce the danger that is posed to the passengers while also taking out the need for carrying out regular maintenance, including puncture inspections and pressure checks.
Uptis also offers huge benefits in terms of sustainability by reducing the total number of tires that end up in scrap and the raw materials and energy that is used during the production. Furthermore, without the wear and tear from under or over inflation, Uptis tires will last longer.
Florent Menegaux, CEO of Michelin, said, ‘Uptis demonstrates that Michelin’s vision for a future of sustainable mobility is clearly an achievable dream. Through work with strategic partners like GM … we can seize the future today.’ Uptis is part of the Michelin’s VISION concept – a four-pillar strategy for development and research in sustainable mobility.
However, there are no details available detailing how these tires work and what they are crafted from. Michelin and GM have not revealed anything about the airless wheel technology. The only information that is available is in a FAQ published by Michelin where the company has stated that Uptis shares some design concepts with its Tweel technology.
GM is hoping to start real-world testing of the Uptis prototype by the end of this year using a fleet of Chevrolet Bolt EVs.