Tyre manufacturer Michelin and General Motors have formed a joint research group to develop and validate the Uptis airless tyre system.
GM is reported to be planning tests of the Uptis (Unique Puncture-proof Tire System) on a fleet of Chevrolet Bolt EVs in Michigan this year.
The tyres use flexible rubber composites and fibreglass resins to create a tyre which no longer relies on inflation or a constant, maintained air pressure.
Rather obviously, the tyres are not susceptible to dangerous blowouts. But by the same token, performance is not affected by incorrect pressure, so should offer improved tread wear over the life of the product.
The design is said to use less raw material and create less waste, while improving overall safety. The flexible ring surrounding the supporting ribs could ultimately be renewed from worn using 3D printing.
The structure can be tuned to suit different vehicle types and driving environments.
Steve Kiefer, senior VP at GM Global Purchasing and Supply Chain, described the new tyre concept as “breakthrough technology”, adding: “[This is] a great example of how our customers benefit when we collaborate and innovate with our supplier partners.”
Kiefer added that the tyre could be used with autonomous vehicles being developed by the global carmaker.
Michelin will retain intellectual properties related to the technology, which will include the right to distribute the tyres to other OEMs.
Michelin is already marketing a version of the Uptis tyre under the brand name Tweel for use with ride-on lawnmowers, golf carts and skid-steer loaders.
Various tyre producers have been experimenting with new designs. In 2017, Hankook unveiled its Flexup concept, which used individual wheel/tyre sections to improve urban mobility.
The Uptis system, which was previewed two years ago as the Vision concept, is expected to be ready for production in 2024.