Image: Michelin

2024 could be the year in which airless tires will finally come to market. This is according to Michelin and General Motors, which have announced that its Uptis tires will be introduced to passenger vehicles “as early as 2024.” Standing for “Unique Puncture-proof Tire System,” Uptis is an airless mobility solution that aims to make flat tires a thing of the past.

“General Motors is excited about the possibilities that Uptis presents, and we are thrilled to collaborate with Michelin on this breakthrough technology,” said Steve Kiefer, senior vice president, Global Purchasing and Supply Chain, General Motors. “Uptis is an ideal fit for propelling the automotive industry into the future and a great example of how our customers benefit when we collaborate and innovate with our supplier partners.”

The primary benefits of airless tires, per GM and Michelin:

  • Reduces the number of punctured or damaged tires that are scrapped before reaching the end of their life cycle.
  • Reduces the use of raw materials, energy for production and emissions linked to the manufacture of spare tires and replacement tires that are no longer required.
  • Lasts longer by eliminating irregular wear and tear caused by over- or under-inflation.
  • Reduces dangers related to flats and blowouts.

Source: General Motors

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21 Comments

  1. That looks pretty cool, if the price is on par with mid grade tires of the like I will be all about it. I wonder if it is easier to tell if the tire is out of balance/alignment because of how it would sit.
  2. That looks pretty cool, if the price is on par with mid grade tires of the like I will be all about it

    I have a feeling they will be at least double the cost, at least in the beginning.

    It’d be nice not to have to carry a spare around, but apart from the blowout or tear in the sidewall, it doesn’t really do much else.

    Sure, a nail won’t cause a slow leak anymore, but a slow leak was never hard/expensive to get fixed. And they will still wear, and require rotation.

    I agree with Grim, they look like cool tech, and I’d definitely use them if they were price competitive and provided a decent ride. But I’m wiling to bet they will have a very hefty premium up front, and they aren’t worth that to me.

  3. I’d certainly get them as well, but that name is awful. Got my Uptits yesterday. Love them but they ride on the pointy side. 🤣
  4. I could see them eventually being cheaper than regular tires – no valve stem, no TPMS, easier to mount. But not until they hit commodity levels — I mean, SSDs still aren’t cheaper than HDDs, but it gets closer every year.
  5. They will not be cheap. They’re already available for zero turn mowers. A set of two 22-24" zero turn tires is like $1500.
  6. All of the sizzle pieces I’ve seen on these are always on dry pavement. I’d be curious to see how they perform going through puddles of a couple inches of standing water after a heavy rain. Considering how a car pulls and slows with traditional tires, I’m imagining this would be substantially worse.

    Also, are these intended for warmer climates only? What happens when these compression spaces fill with snow, and ice?

  7. This doesn’t make any sense if you can’t change the thread alone for a reasonable price and for the sake of saving some material.
  8. This doesn’t make any sense if you can’t change the thread alone for a reasonable price and for the sake of saving some material.
  9. Also have to say I’d be worried about deformation, say, if you left it parked for a few days in the heat — would it get out of round or anything.

    If it could hold up they may be well worth it for like trailers and ranch vehicles, where the tires tend to dry rot before you get anywhere near using up the life of the tread.

  10. All of the sizzle pieces I’ve seen on these are always on dry pavement. I’d be curious to see how they perform going through puddles of a couple inches of standing water after a heavy rain. Considering how a car pulls and slows with traditional tires, I’m imagining this would be substantially worse.

    Also, are these intended for warmer climates only? What happens when these compression spaces fill with snow, and ice?

    I was thinking the same think for up here in NW PA winters.

  11. Seems like the retail version of these would have some veneer sidewall on them to keep dirt and such out, but maybe not?
  12. Just wait for someone to runa steel cord between the tires while parked somewhere dark just to screw with people.
  13. All of the sizzle pieces I’ve seen on these are always on dry pavement. I’d be curious to see how they perform going through puddles of a couple inches of standing water after a heavy rain. Considering how a car pulls and slows with traditional tires, I’m imagining this would be substantially worse.

    Also, are these intended for warmer climates only? What happens when these compression spaces fill with snow, and ice?

    What happens to your wheels when they get filled with snow and ice?

    Apply here.

  14. What happens to your wheels when they get filled with snow and ice?

    Apply here.

    Hmm. Well the rims may get mud and snow, but it’s the tire that compresses by design to help smooth the ride and maximize tread to ground contact, and it’s traditionally sealed and full of air.

    Here you have that springy area in lieu of that, and when it fills with stuff it may not be able to compress properly or evenly any more. Not sure but it looks that way.

  15. I tried watching that second longer video for useful information. Other than learning the spoke structure was made of a form of fiberglass I don’t understand anything new about this tire. I would think a run flat design with a similar spoke structure to extend life would be as welcome if not more so. Plus how does this tire handle camber issues? Or toe issues? Are vehicle suspensions going go be able to handle the stress of the ultra flat surface? I know on a perfectly aligned car not driven to an extreme it will be fine and probably super grippy. But what about some of the performance cars. Will it be able to handle the heat from hard driving? The torque issues of breaking and turning at 2x or more g forces from 4 thousand lbs cars?

    It looks cool so I want to know more but it’s clear they are not willing to share more yet.

  16. Actually when I was laying down I realized I DID miss something notable about these tires. These come as an all in one wheel/tire. That’s right… you replace your WHEEL every time you replace your tire in these cars.

    Suddenly I start to question the financial viability of these things!

    Sure you don’t need someone that knows how to rotate and balance your tires, nor how to get a proper seal to the wheel. You don’t need machinery to change out the tires any more with these. Because it ALL gets replaced.

    I don’t see how they will introduce this and keep it anywhere near cost competitive with what exists today. Not to mention for folks that have wheels of a specific look or function (light weight, off road, and so on) that want to maintain that more than they want to save a nickel every thousand miles. (IF that)

    Now if they got someone like Hyundai to offer these with ‘lifetime replacement’ as part of the package for their more performance oriented car’s that would be cool as an option. But Lifetime replacement would need to be actual service life of the car not what they consider a ‘lifetime’.

  17. Maybe this becomes common theme as time goes on, kinks get worked out, and price comes down. See you in 20 years maybe.

    Personally I wonder how rigid these things are. I have driven a sedan with run flat tires which were super stiff, and I could totally tell the difference when driving (not in a good way).

  18. I’ve driven a zero turn with them and they ride quite nice. Soak up the bumps. And from what I understand, yes, you do buy the entire package of wheel and tread. But the wheels are re-sleeveable with new treads. At least that’s how the zero turn tires are. I don’t know the cost, but I can’t imagine it’s cheap.

    These, as a whole, are not cheap. People aren’t going to be rushing out to put $5000 worth of tires on their Corolla or Civic.

    They’ll probably show up on EV’s first to reduce rotating mass.

  19. I tried watching that second longer video for useful information. Other than learning the spoke structure was made of a form of fiberglass I don’t understand anything new about this tire. I would think a run flat design with a similar spoke structure to extend life would be as welcome if not more so. Plus how does this tire handle camber issues? Or toe issues? Are vehicle suspensions going go be able to handle the stress of the ultra flat surface? I know on a perfectly aligned car not driven to an extreme it will be fine and probably super grippy. But what about some of the performance cars. Will it be able to handle the heat from hard driving? The torque issues of breaking and turning at 2x or more g forces from 4 thousand lbs cars?

    It looks cool so I want to know more but it’s clear they are not willing to share more yet.

    I don’t see this type of tire being practical for racing conditions. They give way too easily. The ribbed structure would have to be reinforced considerably. Maybe a sidewall would be enough.

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