GM And Michelin Testing Airless Tires, Could Offer Them On Vehicles In 2024

Airless tires have been in the works for a number of years, but they could finally be installed on your next vehicle.

Working in partnership with Michelin, GM will begin testing UPTIS (Unique Puncture-proof Tire System) tires later this year on a fleet of Chevrolet Bolts. The real-world tests are designed to help further develop the tires so GM can introduce them on passenger vehicles as early as 2024.

Airless tires have a number of benefits as they can’t go flat or suffer a blowout. Drivers also won’t have to worry about keeping their tires inflated or dealing with irregular wear and tear caused by over- or under-inflation.

UPTIS tires also promise to be environmentally friendly as they’ll significantly reduce the number of “punctured or damaged tires that are scrapped before reaching the end of their life cycle.” They’ll also eliminate the need for spare tires and GM says this will reduce raw material usage, energy consumption and emissions. It also goes without says that eliminating spare tires will make vehicles lighter.

According to GM’s senior vice president of global purchasing and supply chain, the company is “excited about the possibilities” created by airless tires and they’re “thrilled to collaborate with Michelin on this breakthrough technology.” Steve Kiefer went on to say “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.”

Also Read: Polaris to Offer Quad with Novel Airless Tires

Michelin estimates that roughly 20% of tires are scrapped every year due to punctures or irregular wear. In total, 200 million tires are junked annually and that’s a ton of waste that could be significantly reduced with airless technology.

 

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  • Six_Tymes

    I read about R&D on these like 15-20 years ago, good to see new tech come to market. regardless of what they look like I WILL GLADLY BUY them. They will be Much safer. That said, I can’t see how they will ride and feel as smooth as air filled tires. I guess we will know soon with testing results.

    • scjeff

      My understanding is that these will look like normal tires, with sidewalls. The ones in the pictures are to show off the tech and see what’s going on inside. Otherwise they would have major problems with snow/ice/mud getting stuck in those fins.

      • Six_Tymes

        “regardless of what they look like”

        you assumed I thought they will look like this… nope. and to my other point? you got nothing?

        • scjeff

          Lighten up Francis.

  • U8INIT

    This is significant…

  • Great idea – providing the cost of replacements is at least comparable to current tires.

  • BlackPegasus

    Is it safe to say these airless tires will be made with some sort of built-in obsolescence? Otherwise how would they be a profitable venture for Michelin?

    • They still use traditional rubber for the outside which will wear down just like any other tire.

    • roy

      Exactly

      • Oh for the love of God – look, they are completely ‘normal’ tires on the outside. Rubber. Same stuff that wears down over time. They have not touched the outside, just the inside. Hence, they’ll likely last exactly the same as a normal tire.

    • europeon

      Uhm… yeah. Tread wear.

  • Super Rob

    Start testing them on Semi Trucks. They are the ones throwing tire pieces all over the road. They run so many miles that testing will be done quick. Plus with these there is no reason for them all to not become super singles.

    • JGreen

      Until truck drivers start re-treading these too. Then you’ll have the same problems.

  • I LIKE THE IDEA BUT DON’T LIKE THE LOOK. THEY SOME HOW LOOK LIKE DUBS. THEY ALSO LOOK LIKE THEY’D GIVE A MUSHY RIDE.

  • TrevP

    I bet they could design rims that flow with the tire design which i think would be kind of cool. The issue I find is weight. These seem like they would weigh a lot more, effecting the way your vehicle drives.

    • Dude

      Michelin said they weigh at most the same. But because you wouldn’t need any tire pressure monitoring sensors, spare tires, jacks, or patch and inflation kits there will be some weight saving.

      • TrevP

        Makes sense and seems like a step in the right direction. But with our cars already having those TPS systems they may want to just think about putting sensors in them anyways for the sake of my TPS warning light

  • PlonPlon

    Wondering how these tyres will behave during emergency braking.

    • helloWorld

      real people don’t do emergency braking. we just crash because we can’t tell between the brake pedal and the gas pedal

  • Bo Hanan

    Don’t know how they wouldn’t be more expensive with that inside as opposed to air.

  • Toronado_II

    What about snow ??

    • Yo Homie

      Doesn’t look like they’ll be very good for drifting. It will be an awkward morning when the slush packed vanes are frozen solid in one half of the tire, while the other half of the tire is clear. It would be completely undrivable.

      These would be an awful tire in the winter.

      I do wonder how they handle other sheer forces, like hydroplaning sideways, and suddenly the tire hits a nice dry patch.

      There’s a mention that these tires will eliminate the need for a spare. UHHHHMMM… Doubt.
      Spare tires are always going to be a thing. You’ll never need it! … Until, you know, you do… Then yeah it’s a great idea to carry a spare. Which is the entire point of having a spare. Even with air filled tires, we hope we never need it, but God damn, sure is nice to drive yourself to the shop if something does happen. A popped tire is only one of many things that can go wrong with a tire. But you can’t defend yourself against a manufacturer defect, and when the ribbing in your airless tire starts ripping apart on you for no apparent reason, or someone snipped a couple a couple of them apart, you’ll be happy that you were smart enough to haul around a maintenance free, airless spare tire for the past few years.

  • iddqd

    this is 2019- we are supposed to have hover boards and whatnot…instead we have THIS and Elon…

    • helloWorld

      they been trying these airless tires since the 30’s. hey you do have a “hoverboard,” they just catch fire or have to pay lexus for use in it’s special park

  • SteersUright

    These are awesome in theory but damn, they really do mess up the look of a car.

  • StrangerGP

    I don’t see this thing becoming popular because of how ugly the tyres look. It’s like you’re constantly running on flats and other drivers will be bothering you about it.

    Plus they don’t seem to be “compatible” with sand, snow etc.

    • it’s open to show how it works not a production tire to please your eyes. Final tires will look normal.

  • Matteo Tommasi

    You ALL didn’t understand that these are show tyres without sidewall. In the end, they will look like normal tyres.

    • beer for you.

    • Thanks for not joining the pack.

  • Howfarr

    *Elon’s money
    Talented engineers did this, just like they did 20+ years ago (McDonnell Douglas DC-X)

    • I REALIZE ELON DOESN’T BUILD THEM, HE HAS A DREAM AND GETS IT BUILT. IF THEY DID IT 20 YRS AGO WHY IS EVERYONE ELSE TOSSING EXPENSIVE HARDWARE? HATE THE MAN ALL YOU WANT BUT HE GETS THINGS DONE.

      • Howfarr

        Because now (like 20 years ago) doing this has little to no advantage over disposable rocket boosters

        • Bob

          The bigger picture is Mars. The idea was to solve landing and reuse of rockets to make Mars missions viable.

        • UH HUH.

  • SunAndTheAir

    Increased rotational inertia? Non-adjustable tyre pressures?

  • SunAndTheAir

    How about…. increased rotational inertia? Non-adjustable tyre pressures?

  • Bash

    Honestly this this is already decades late.

  • ctk4949

    Would these work with low profile tires??

  • f1300

    So, they are stating that the car will be lighter because you don’t need a spare tire. They don’t bother to say that most cars on the market don’t even offer a spare tire anymore due to their weight. But those new tires have to weigh way more because of their interior (which has been air before). So the car will actually get heavier!

    Secondly, they are arguably not more economically friendly: they need more material to produce, weigh more than conventional cars (thus consuming more energy), the tires seem to be much softer than regular tires, thus wearing off much faster.

    And then: How often do you change worn off tires in comparison to punnctured tires?

    I’m very open for new ways of thinking, but I can’t see any advantages here.

    • Alex87f

      1. New cars still feature repair kits that do weigh something, although not as much as a full spare. Removing them and their storage space would further reduce weight
      Part 2 about them being heavier is pure speculation

      2. Again, pure speculation, most likely unjustified as it would not make sense to introduce a new technology that’s less efficient than the one it replaces

      3. The answer is in the article

  • Melih Haboglu

    good idea.. hope to see on roads

  • JGreen

    Judging from the picture over the rocks, the handling would be very bad. The insides would flex horribly when turning fast. Plus not pressure adjustments. But I’m sure they could produce one to compensate for handling.

  • Jay

    Glad to see these on consumer vehicles after all that time.

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