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In 2019 General Motors and Michelin announced a collaboration to develop a new generation of airless rubber wheels based on a prototype that the French tire giant called UPTIS (Unique Puncture-Proof Tire System). »), and that it is basically a tire that uses flexible ribs instead of air to support the weight of the vehicle.
GM stated at the time the intention to develop an airless tire with Michelin based on UPTIS, with the aim of introducing it in its passenger vehicles from 2024.
CNN just reported that the version of the UPTIS developed with GM will debut in the next generation of the Chevrolet Bolt, which has also been reported to serve as the basis for a completely autonomous vehicle for transporting passengers, and for which a puncture-proof wheel would go a long way. sense.
Alexis Garcin, president of Michelin North America, said in an interview with CNN Business “We want to bring the next generation of the Chevrolet Bolt with airless tires,” adding that “it’s going to happen now in the next three to five years.”
The problem is that although joint UPTIS testing began on a current-generation Chevrolet Bolt, GM has yet to confirm the development of a new generation of the electric model. Yet GM is in the midst of developing a family of electric vehicles, and no doubt one or more of them could be invested with the honor of being the first model to use airless wheels.
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In 2019 Steve Kiefer, senior vice president of Global Purchasing and Supply Chain at General Motors said the company was “excited about the possibilities that UPTIS presents, and we are delighted to collaborate with Michelin on this innovative technology.”
The durability of UPTIS offers significant potential to save on the use of raw materials and the creation of waste, significantly reducing the number of flat or damaged tires that are discarded before reaching the end of their life cycle. This also has the benefit of reducing the energy used and emissions emitted during tire manufacturing, even eliminating the need to have a spare tire on the vehicle.