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Airless tyres will be a thing in 2024

Michelin and GM team up to make punctures a thing of the past

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Though funky-looking airless tyres have been around for a while - Michelin has been developing them since 2005 - none have yet been fitted to a regular road car available to the masses.

But apparently, that’s all going to change in 2024, which is when Michelin and GM aim to introduce a version of their ‘Uptis’ tyre (unique puncture-proof tyre system) that sufficiently replicates the characteristics of a normal, air-filled tyre.

Michelin says the Uptis tyre, which is made from composite rubber and resin-embedded fibreglass, can “bear a car’s weight at road-going speeds” thanks to material and structure improvements. Previous iterations of airless tyre could not support as much weight, or travel at high-enough speeds.

The benefits of a tyre without air in it are many and varied. GM and Michelin say the risk of punctures and blow-outs will be totally eliminated, as will excessive, life-shortening wear caused by under- or over-inflation.

All that means tyres can be replaced much less often, so fewer can be produced - the raw materials, energy and emissions required to do so saved. Michelin claims some 200 million tyres are prematurely scrapped every year because of damage.

Airless tyres will also be good for autonomous cars, which “will demand near-zero maintenance from the tyre to maximise their operating capabilities.”

Later this year the companies will start real-world testing airless tyres on a fleet of Chevrolet Bolt EVs.

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