GM and Michelin have entered a new partnership, where they are building a radical new type of wheel to replace conventional pneumatic tires and wheels, which have been a constant for a century now. The new airless tire will be produced under the brand name Uptis.
However, it is not yet certain whether the technology will work. GM still needs to confirm effectiveness before it starts production. Other manufacturers like Bridgestone-Firestone have also been working on airless tires.
The new Uptis will look like a conventional tire, but it will have three individual components. The outer layer is made of a mix of rubber and synthetic compounds. It features the same sort of tread pattern as a conventional tire. But there are no sidewalls. Instead, the latest prototype uses high-strength composite spokes that are mated to an aluminum hub, which mounts to a car’s axle, just like a conventional tire.
The Uptis can neither be inflated nor can it go flat which means it can improve highway safety.
Airless tires have long been on the list of manufacturers but so far they have progressed rather slowly. The challenge is mainly to match the behavior of conventional tires in terms of performance, handling, energy efficiency and cost. The Uptis will be the first development in this direction and is designed to be fuel-efficient like conventional tires. Another advantage will be its cost effectiveness and a longer lifespan than conventional tires.