Michelin, GM Develop Airless Tires
Michelin and General Motors came together to present a new generation of airless wheel technology for passenger vehicles—the MICHELIN Uptis Prototype.
The Uptis Prototype (which stands for “Unique Puncture-proof Tire System”) was presented at the Movin’On Summit for sustainable mobility. Additionally, both companies announced that they are entering into a joint research agreement, under which they plan to validate the Uptis Prototype. The goal is to introduce Uptis tires on passenger cars by 2024.
The companies are currently testing the Uptis Prototype on passenger vehicles, beginning with vehicles like the Chevrolet Bolt EV. They also plan to do real-world testing of the Uptis tire on a test fleet of Bolt EV vehicles in Michigan later in 2019.
According to Michelin, this innovative wheel assembly removes the risk of flat tires and blowouts since the Uptis is airless. The tire, therefore, has the following benefits, states Michelin:
- Passenger vehicle drivers feel safer on the road.
- For fleet operators, downtime is minimized and efficiency is enhanced due to the near-zero levels of maintenance.
- Overall, the society also stands to benefit due to a decrease in the use of raw materials for replacement tire or spare tire production.
The Uptis Prototype is a step towards Michelin’s VISION concept which was introduced at its Movin’On Summit in 2017. The concept is an illustration of the company’s strategy for research and development in sustainable mobility. The four main pillars of innovation under the VISION concept are: airless, connected, 3D-printed and 100% sustainable (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 Michelin Group. “Through work with strategic partners like GM, who share our ambitions for transforming mobility, we can seize the future today.”
“General Motors is excited about the possibilities that Uptis presents, and we are thrilled to collaborate with Michelin on this breakthrough technology,” said Steve Kiefer, Senior Vice President, Global Purchasing and Supply Chain, General Motors. “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.”
Developed to suit current passenger vehicles, the Uptis Prototype is also aligned with the emerging forms of mobility, according to Michelin. It is expected that future vehicles and fleets—whether autonomous, all-electric, shared service or other applications—will seek to maximize their operating capabilities through the demand of near-zero tire maintenance.
“The Uptis Prototype demonstrates Michelin’s capacity for innovation—in both the mastery of these high-tech materials, and also the development approach in close collaboration with GM, which validates our Vision concept as a roadmap for innovation,” said Eric Vinesse, Executive Vice President, Research and Development, Group Michelin, who revealed Uptis at the Movin’On Summit. “Uptis represents progress toward Michelin’s vision for tomorrow’s mobility, and also embodies our commitment to a better, sustainable mobility for all.”
The new generation tire is able to bear the car’s weight at road-going speeds due to the constant innovations in its architecture and composite materials. These innovations are jointly responsible for eliminating compressed air to support the vehicle’s load. It is estimated that around 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. The airless tire seeks to eliminate this cost to the environment.
According to Michelin, the Uptis Prototype demonstrates the commitment of both Michelin and GM towards delivering safer, more sustainable mobility solutions.