The Uptis Michelin airless tire is rolled in Munich – sciences et Avenir

For almost fifteen years it has sat proudly in every motor show on the Michelin stand: the puncture-proof tire because it is fully airless. Without ever seeing it mounted in a car in circulation and even less put up for sale. A true sea serpent, so much so that one wondered if the innovation would one day be commercialized. Too complex to implement? Strategically questionable because it deprives the manufacturer of the modernization market after a flat tire? It should be remembered that it is forbidden to have a depth difference of more than 5 mm between two tires on the same axle, so changing one often leads to changing torque. At the moment, the puncture-proof tire was reserved for some specific machines, particularly agricultural ones.

200 million flat tires per year

It was therefore a surprise to see the first demonstration of the tire in action at the Munich (Germany) motor show, the IAA Mobility held in September 2021. Mounted on an electric version of the Mini, it was presented as part of the French manufacturer’s communication on tomorrow’s mobility. And as such, it is no longer possible to ignore the 200 million tires, or 2 million tons, that end up in landfills each year after a puncture. Initially dubbed “Movin’On,” the concept took the name Uptis for the unique puncture-proof tire system.

The design is very original: it is not just a tire, but a wheel and tire assembly. The aluminum wheel is covered with a support structure in a glass resin composite material and a tread. When an irregularity happens, this structure deforms, just like the air-filled carcass of a current tire. But the airless tire is not affected by a puncture.

Towards commercialization in 2024

Further development will take place not in France but in the United States: it is with the General Motors group that Michelin has joined forces to carry out the tests. They started with an electric Chevrolet Bolt, a city car that could soon be marketed to us under the Opel brand. Work on the puncture-proof tire will continue for two years in Las Vegas in real traffic conditions. With a promise of commercialization in 2024.

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