Michelin and General Motors presented a new generation of airless wheel technology for passenger vehicles – the Michelin Uptis prototype (or “Unique Punctureproof Tire System”) – at the Movin’On Summit for sustainable mobility in Montréal, Quebec, Canada on June 4.
Michelin and GM also announced a joint research agreement under which the companies intend to validate the Uptis Prototype with the goal of introducing Uptis on passenger models as early as 2024.
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, Michelin says.
Because Uptis is airless, Michelin says the wheel assembly eliminates the risk of flat tires and blowouts.
The Uptis prototype represents an 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 using entirely renewable or bio-sourced materials.
“Uptis demonstrates that Michelin’s vision for a future of sustainable mobility is clearly an achievable dream,” said Florent Menegaux, chief executive officer for the Michelin Group. “Through work with strategic partners like GM, who share our ambitions for transforming mobility, we can seize the future today.”
Uptis features improvements in architecture and composite materials, according to Michelin, which enable it to bear the car’s weight at road-going speeds. The company says these features combine to eliminate compressed air to support the vehicle’s load and result in environmental savings. Approximately 200 million tires worldwide are scrapped prematurely every year as a result of punctures, damage from road hazards or improper air pressure that causes uneven wear.