An upcoming electric car from one of the world’s biggest manufacturers could launch with puncture-proof tyres.
Airless tyres could be rolling out onto public roads before the end of this decade, according to a Michelin executive.
The concept of punctureless rubber has been around since the first motorists were confronted with the inconvenience of flats. However, a safe, durable, and cost effective example has never gone into mass-production.
The world’s biggest tyre maker now claims that’s all about the change, revealing US automotive giant General Motors is looking to offer an electric car fitted from the factory with its non-pneumatic spinners.
“We want to bring the next generation of the Chevrolet Bolt with airless tyres,” Alexis Garcin – president of Michelin North America – told CNN Business overnight. “We’re literally reinventing the wheel here.”
The original Bolt came onto the market in 2016 (Model Year 2017), and overseas reports suggest it is likely to be succeeded in 2025 or 2026. This suggests the new airless tyres could be three to four years from production.
However, General Motors currently has a very limited presence in Australia (just the GMSV marque is currently offered) and it’s unclear if the new zero-emission hatchback will be offered in local showrooms.
Dubbed the Unique Puncture-proof Tyre System (UPTIS), Michelin’s existing prototype uses “a flexible load-bearing structure made from glass fibre reinforced plastic” to support the weight of a vehicle without compressed air.
Approximately 12 per cent of tyres are currently scrapped due to a puncture, while a further eight per cent wear out quicker than they otherwise could due to under- or over-inflation.
According to the French tyre maker, its new UPTIS product could save up to two million tons of waste each year by extending the average lifespan of tyres.