Michelin's new airless tyres could make punctures and blowouts a thing of the past. Picture: SUPPLIED
Michelin's new airless tyres could make punctures and blowouts a thing of the past. Picture: SUPPLIED

Back in 2005, Michelin unveiled a puncture-proof airless concept tyre called the Tweel, which used ribs instead of air.

Now the French tyre company is ready to introduce the production version of the revolutionary tyre, which is called the Uptis (Unique Puncture-proof Tire System).

In what could be one of the biggest advances in the 125-year history of the car, the prototype tyre was presented at this week's Movin'On Summit on sustainable mobility in Montreal, Canada.

Instead of being filled with compressed air like regular tyres, the Uptis is connected to the rim via strong but flexible spokes which fulfil the shock-absorbing role.

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The most obvious benefits are road safety and convenience, in that they won’t experience blowouts or sudden flats that could lead to loss of control of the vehicle, or leave you stuck on the side of the road after driving over a nail or hitting a pothole.

Strong but flexible spokes fulfil the shock absorbing role. Picture: SUPPLIED
Strong but flexible spokes fulfil the shock absorbing role. Picture: SUPPLIED

The airless tyres will also be virtually maintenance-free and won’t have irregular wear from over- or underinflation, and they’re also claimed to have a significantly longer life span than pressurised tyres.

There's also an environmentally friendly advantage in that the tyres use less raw material, and there will be fewer scrapped tyres from puncture or damage. Michelin says about 200-million tyres are scrapped prematurely every year worldwide due to damage. 

General Motors will begin real-world testing of the Uptis prototype tyres later this year on a fleet of Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles in Michigan, US. The goal is to begin offering the Uptis on passenger cars in 2024.

Michelin together with General Motors has unveiled a new generation of airless wheel technology for passenger vehicles — the Michelin Uptis Prototype (or “Unique Puncture- proof Tire System”).