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.”
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.