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Michelin and GM take the air out of tyres

11 June 2019

Michelin and General Motors have presented a new generation of airless wheel technology for passenger vehicles.

Image courtesy of Michelin

Michelin and GM are testing the Uptis Prototype, beginning with vehicles like the Chevrolet Bolt EV. Later this year, the companies will initiate real-world testing of Uptis on a test fleet of Bolt EV vehicles in Michigan.

Because Uptis is airless, the breakthrough wheel assembly eliminates the dangerous risk of flat tyres and blowouts:

• Drivers of passenger vehicles feel safer on the road.

• Operators of passenger vehicle fleets minimise downtime and improve efficiency resulting from flat tyres and near-zero levels of maintenance.

• Society at large benefits from extraordinary environmental savings through reduced use of raw materials for replacement tyre or spare tyre production.

The Uptis Prototype represents a major advancement toward achieving Michelin’s VISION concept, which was presented at the Movin’On Summit in 2017 as an illustration of Michelin’s strategy for research and development in sustainable mobility. The VISION concept introduced four main pillars of innovation: airless, connected, 3D printed and 100% sustainable (entirely renewable or bio-sourced materials).

The Uptis Prototype is re-engineered for today’s passenger vehicles, and it is also well suited to emerging forms of mobility. The vehicles and fleets of tomorrow – whether autonomous, all-electric, shared service or other applications – will demand near-zero maintenance from the tyre to maximise their operating capabilities.

Uptis features improvements in architecture and composite materials, which enable Uptis to bear the car’s weight at road-going speeds.

These innovations combine to eliminate compressed air to support the vehicle’s load and result in extraordinary environmental savings: approximately 200 million tyres worldwide are scrapped prematurely every year because of punctures, damage from road hazards or improper air pressure that causes uneven wear.

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