In 2017, Michelin presented its VISION concept at the Movin’On Summit, highlighting their dedication and strategy for research and development of sustainable mobility solutions. Now, the French tyre maker has shown its new generation of airless tyres for passenger vehicles.
The Michelin Unique Puncture-proof Tyre System or Utips for short, is built upon the VISION concept’s four main pillars of innovation – airless, connected, 3D-printed and 100% sustainable (made entirely from renewable or bio-sourced materials).
At the centre is a composite and high-strength resin embedded fibreglass that can be compressed upon impact (going over undulations) and strong enough to maintain its structural integrity on the move. This results in a completely airless tyre that eliminates the risks of puncture, flat tyres and blowouts.
Utips can be fitted onto any regular wheels and can withstand the weight and speeds of passenger vehicles. On the prototype, the maximum speed was rated at 210 km/h. This airless tyre is also designed to cater for autonomous and fully electric cars when the need arises.
Not only that, Utips was designed to be near maintenance-free, reducing the need for inspecting tyre pressure, damage and even rotations for even tread wear.
Besides the safety benefits for passenger vehicles, operators of fleet vehicles are able to minimise downtime and improve operational efficiency resulting from the Utips puncture-proof and zero-maintenance characteristics.
These innovations combined results in stunning levels of environmental savings as there are approximately 200 million tyres worldwide are scrapped prematurely every year due to punctures, road hazard damage or uneven wear. Michelin envisions that Utips will significantly cut down on environmental impact.
Utips is currently undergoing prototype testing and validation. Michelin and General Motors (GM) have announced a joint research agreement to accelerate the process and aims to introduce the first production ready Utips on passenger cars as early as 2024. Later this year, Utips will undergo real-world testing on a test fleet of Chevrolet Bolt EVs in Michigan, USA.
Michelin has already made great strides in the area of airless tyre technology with the Michelin Tweel back in 2014, an airless tyre for skid steer loaders and commercial vehicles. Watching the robustness and benefits of the Tweel in action, we can’t wait for the first Utips to be used on passenger cars.
Michelin Utips Airless Tyre Prototype