Since people have been driving cars, getting and having to change flat tires has been an inevitability. My own father made me learn how to do it myself, just in case, and even though I’ve never had to put that knowledge to use (knock on wood), changing a tire is thought of as a basic skill in our society.
Unfortunately, some auto manufacturers have decided spares are superfluous, with 28% of new cars being sold without one in the trunk, according to a 2017 AAA report.
Luckily, Michelin is here for us!
They’re working with General Motors to develop and test a tire called Uptis (Unique Puncture-Proof Tire System) that doesn’t use air – and therefore, cannot go flat.
They debuted the groundbreaking design at the Movin’ On Summit in Montreal and I’ve gotta say…sign me up.
Even though the Uptis has conventional treads on the outside, the middle layer is made of composite rubber and resin-embedded fiberglass spokes. Air would typically provide the support for the outer treads, but in this case, the spokes do the job just as well (arguably better).
Michelin and GM believe these tires will also last longer, because they aren’t in danger of wearing down more quickly due to over or under-inflation. For the same reason, they claim the tires are more environmentally-friendly, since fewer tires means less tire waste over all.
Right now, over 200 million tires are tossed into the rubbish every single year.
The company plans to test the Uptis tires on a fleet of Chevy Bolts (electric vehicles) later this year. If it goes well, you can expect to see the tires on all new GM vehicles as early as 2024.
Right now, it’s not clear whether or not the tires would be available for purchase separately, so don’t let those tire-changing skills go dormant just yet.
But fear not! A brighter future with less squatting by the side of the road in the heat or rain could be on the very near horizon.