General Motors has announced plans to introduce airless tires on production passenger vehicles by as early as 2024.
The automaker has partnered with Michelin on the endeavour and will work with the French tire manufacturer to further develop its Uptis Prototype (or “Unique Puncture-proof Tire System”) in the coming years.
Real-world testing of the Uptis will begin later this year, with GM set to release a fleet of Chevrolet Bolt EVs with the special tires on them onto Michigan roads.
GM says the Uptis contributes to its future vision for zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion as it cannot suffer a blowout in the same way a traditional tire can. Additionally, the tires require less raw material to be produced, last longer and cannot be over- or under-inflated.
“General Motors is excited about the possibilities that Uptis presents, and we are thrilled to collaborate with Michelin on this breakthrough technology,” said GM’s senior vice president for Global Purchasing and Supply Chain, Steve Kiefer. “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 says these tires may be ideal for fleet owners and professional vehicle drivers, who are usually looking for a tire that is durable and long lasting. The Uptis can improve overall productivity in working environments as well, it says, reducing downtime from flats and requiring almost zero maintenance.
The tire company has actually been developing airless tire technology for quite some time and already offers an airless tire with similar technology to the Uptis on golf karts. The golf kart tire is called the Michelin Tweel and features a rubberized outside tread with high-strength poly-resin ‘spokes’. The Uptis is quite similar, comprising of an aluminum wheel assembly, rubber and fiberglass composite spokes and an outside rubber tread.
Look for Uptis-equipped Chevrolet Bolt EVs to begin testing soon.