Benjamin Franklin once said, “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes.”
Let’s add tyre troubles to that list.
Tyres always seem to know when exactly to blow – when youre doing 110 km/h on the motorway, for example.
That’s probably the reason why Michelin, in collaboration with GM, have developed an airless tyre that could make flat tyres and blowouts a thing of the past.
The Uptis prototype (a.k.a. the “Unique Puncture-proof Tire System”) was presented back in June this year. GM also unveiled their goal to include airless tyres on passenger cars by 2024.
So, what’s so great about airless tyres?
First of all, no air in your tyres means no flats and blowouts. Not only is this a massive improvement in safety, it could also drastically cut down on the cost of having to replace tyres prematurely due to punctures.
Airless tyres eliminate the need for maintenance and air pressure checks, damage inspections and wheel rotations. Since there is no air in the tyre, you won’t get the issues that crop up from driving on under- or over-inflated tyres such as slipping, decreased fuel efficiency, and irregular wear and tear.
The Uptis is also much more environmentally friendly than air-filled tyres because they don’t need to be replaced due to flats and blowouts. According to Michelin, 200 million tyres are thrown out each year – that’s equivalent to the weight of 200 Eiffel Towers. The introduction of airless tyres could result in a 20% reduction in this waste, saving about 40 million tyres from the landfill – that’s a lot of tyres.
The Uptis isn’t the first airless wheel Michelin has designed. Introduced in 2004, the Tweel features a conventional rubber tread band held up by flexible polyurethane shock-absorbing spokes. The Uptis is constructed similarly with a composite rubber and fibreglass tread band and aluminium spokes. However, whereas the Tweel is mainly used on construction vehicles, ATVs and golf carts, the Uptis but is designed for the much faster travel speeds of passenger cars.
According to Michelin, there isn’t much difference between the Uptis and conventional air-filled rubber tyres – both perform and weigh the same, but since you won’t need to carry around a spare tire once you’re fitted with the Uptis, there are clear advantages to fuel economy with the airless tyre design.
The Uptis prototype is set to be tested this year on Chevrolet Bolt EV vehicles in Milford, Michigan. If all goes well, you can expect to see the Uptis on other GM passenger models by 2024.
For more information about the Uptis prototype, here’s a great video which explains how it works:
In the meantime, here’s how to tell if your tyres need re-treading or replacing; and if you’re about to head off on a long drive, it’s always a good idea to stock up on a reliable Pressure Gauge or Tyre Inflator. Otherwise, if you find your tyres looking a bit dull and dusty, why not give it a pick-me-up with our great range of Wheel & Tyre Care products?
At Sparesbox, you can find all the Wheel & Tyre parts you need, right at your fingertips!