It is not the first time that we talk about tires without air, but now we finally have a specific date. In 2013, the South Korean company Hankook presented iFlex, a prototype of wheels with ecological materials and a design based on geometric shapes that provided the necessary bounce and elasticity. In 2014, the own Michelin presented the X Tweel, a tire composed of a rigid cube connected to the tread by means of deformable polyurethane spokes.
Michelin and General Motors have announced that the project continues with UPTIS Prototype (or “Unique Puncture-proof Tire System”) and although it is still a prototype, they have announced that its commercialization will arrive in 2024 . With the first tests on real cars later this year.
Uptis, the tire without air and without punctures has a commercialization date
A fleet of Chevrolet Bolt EV will be responsible for testing the effectiveness of this new tire ‘Uptis’ without air. According to Michelin, the tire has many positive points compared to traditional wheels: it eliminates the risk of punctures, reduces the amount of materials and energy to produce them, increases its durability and completely changes the shape of the tire by not needing tires.
At the time, Michelin announced an investment of 40.7 million euros in the facilities of Clermont-Ferrand to develop this tire and although then there was no clear horizon, it seems that the project has paid off. The ‘Uptis’ seems an evolution of ‘Vision’, the prototype of airless tire printed in 3D from biodegradable materials presented in 2017.
The industry seems determined to promote this type of tires , although we are still a few years away from achieving it according to the manufacturers’ forecasts. According to Toyota and Sumitomo Rubber, it will be in 2025 and the second part of the next decade when these tires without air start to become a reality.
The idea of these tires according to Michelin is to reduce the time lost by the repair of punctures. With ‘Uptis’ they promise that they can be repaired using 3D printing technology.
The objective is to offer a more efficient tire than the current ones, where the idea of tire and rim disappears separately and the wheel is considered as a whole, with its points of elasticity and stiffness calculated to act as the wheels of now , but with the difference of not suffering punctures when not having air and using a resin inserted in carbon fiber.
An important change that we have been talking about for years and finally two major brands in the sector have dared to put a specific date of commercialization.