No more blow outs perhaps but Michelin’s new tyre prototype looks wrong somehow. And is it really as safe as they claim?
Michelin has announced a radical car tyre design that is airless and which, it claims, will make blow outs a thing of the past. General Motors will develop the tyre technology in partnership with Michelin.
As you can see from the picture, it’s a solid design from composite materials which gains its rigidity from fluted spokes, almost like a second wheel.
It’s got a silly name too: Uptis, which stands for Unique Punctureproof Tire System. Right.
Despite this, the goal of a blow out proof tyre is a good one to have. High speed blow outs are among the scariest things to happen to drivers.
And, having to ditch an otherwise good tyre because of an irreparable puncture is expensive and wasteful.
Michelin reckon they can bring the Uptis to production cars by 2024. Michelin and GM are closed road-testing the tyre on a Chevrolet Bolt EV and will initiate real-world testing on a fleet of Bolts in Michigan.
In the the video demonstration (above) the tyres look incredibly soft, which raises some questions. We don’t know how the tyres would perform at the limit, would they be as grippy as regular tyres?
Plus how does wear affect a tyre that cannot be inflated? How hard wearing would the rubber spokes be in real usage on real roads? What would happen if a spoke was cut? I guess we will find out as testing proceeds.
Weird looking or not, the Uptis represents a step forward for car owners. We’ve all endured the pain of an expensive trip to Kwik-Fit thanks to a loose builders nail.
Around 200 million tyres worldwide are scrapped prematurely every year as a result of punctures, damage from road hazards or improper air pressure.