Michelin's New Airless Tires Just Hit Public Streets For the First Time

The concept is scheduled for market launch in 2024.
Ameya Paleja
The UPTIS airless tireMichelin

Puncture-proof tires have been an intriguing concept for many years. Tire maker, Michelin, has been working on it since 2005 and after more than a decade of work, it is now closer to reality. The company took its puncture-proof tires for a spin for the first time, on an electric vehicle, in line with the company's goals of being more sustainable in the future. 

More than three billion tires are produced annually around the world. Once beyond their lifetime, these tires usually end up in landfills. They are also at risk of catching fire and releasing toxic fumes into the atmosphere. Like with other things manmade, one way of making tires more eco-friendly is to make them out of naturally occurring material. The second is to reduce instances that cause wear and tear and render the tires useless. French tire manufacturer, Michelin, is using both these approaches to make its tires more 'green' in the future. 

Through its Vision Concept, the company wants to make tires that are airless, rechargeable, connected, and sustainable. The Unique Punctureproof TIre System (UPTIS) is the airless tire that, thanks, to its unique design, does not require air filling and, never gets punctured either. 

The company released a teaser video in 2017 to help garner excitement for the work. You can see how they look in the video below.  

According to its Concept note, UPTIS combines an aluminum wheel and has a flexible load-bearing structure which is made out of glass fiber reinforced plastic (GFRP). The company is confident that with this design, it can continue to deliver the performance of conventional Michelin tires.

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The company recently took the Uptis out in public for the first time and even invited a limited number of people for the test drive.

"The truly distinctive structure of the MICHELIN Uptis prototype, or its ‘weirdness’ as we have often heard it called, really attracted the attention of many visitors and left a lasting impression on them," said Cyrille Roget, Michelin Group Technical and Scientific Communications Director. "It was an exceptional experience for us, and our greatest satisfaction came at the end of the demonstration when our passengers, who were admittedly a little wary at first, said they felt no difference compared with conventional tires." While we do not know the price range of these tires yet, the company said they were on track for tires to reach the market by 2024. 

During the initial phase, these tires will also contain recycled plastic waste; and over time, the company will replace 100 percent of the tire components with organic or recyclable materials. 

This might really be the first time that man has 'reinvented the wheel

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