Michelin has teamed up with GM to design and start selling an airless tyre for street use on passenger cars. Called Uptis, this product is a full-wheel solution requiring specialized rims. Michelin says it will withstand much greater impacts than a regular tyre and wheel, and will have a “dramatically” longer lifespan, while adding no extra rolling resistance, not feeling any different to the driver and adding only around seven percent to the weight of the wheel – less than existing run-flat tyres do.
GM will begin offering Uptis as an option on certain models “as early as 2024,” and the partnership is working with US state governments on regulatory approvals for street use, as well as with the federal government.
At IAA Munich recently, the Uptis airless tyre got its first public outing, in which “certain lucky members of the public” had a chance to ride in a Mini Electric kitted out with a set.
By all reports, the experience was about as exciting as driving on a regular set of tyres – i.e. not very interesting at all. They felt no different. But that’s kind of the point here, Michelin is hoping to bring in a new and improved technology with zero change in the user experience.