Michelin and General Motors presented a prototype of airless tires. They are made by technology Michelin Uptis (Unique Puncture-proof Tire System, “a Unique puncture-proof bus system”). It is expected that the first cars with such tires GM will launch in 2024.
In the current year the company intends to start testing tires in Michigan. They will be “shod” electric Chevrolet Bolt.
It is noteworthy that the presentation of the Michelin Uptis on the GM website does not focus on the practical advantages of such rubber, and the advantages from the point of view of ecology. The company noted four key aspects:
- Decreases the number of punctured or damaged tires which are thrown until the end of the life cycle due to natural wear and tear;
- reduced use of raw materials and energy for production and related emissions into the environment;
- last longer due to elimination of wear caused by excessive or insufficient pressure
- reduced risk of accidents caused by punctures and burst tires.
Despite the obvious benefits, airless tires, there are a number of disadvantages. First, they cannot pump up and down: no possibility to adjust the characteristics (in particular, elasticity) under current conditions (car weight, road quality, ambient temperature and so on) or taste preferences of the driver. Second, these tires should weigh significantly more than usual (in relation Michelin Uptis weight data were not disclosed), but this increase unsprung weight, which adversely affects driving characteristics. While we can only hope that the obvious design flaws like the fragility of the elastic elements, the engineers have overcome.
Also note that the same prototypes appear relatively long, however, until this technology applies only in dedicated transport like ATVs and machinery.