According to a study, 20 percent of the tires produced yearly are discarded due to flats and rapid pressure loss or irregular wear and tear caused by poor tire pressure. That's equivalent to a total of 200 million tires that don't finish their intended purposes. In other words, that's a lot of waste in terms of costs, materials, and energy used to make the tires.
That sustainability problem is the main focus of Michelin in creating the Unique Puncture-proof Tire System prototype, also known as Uptis. Officially introduced in 2019 but has a development timeline that goes way back to a decade, the Michelin Uptis is nearing its public launch but here's a preview while being worn by a Mini Cooper SE, courtesy of YouTube's Mr. JWW.
Gallery: Michelin Uptis Airless Tires
In the video, which you can watch at the top of this page, Mr. JWW interviewed Cyrille Roget, Michelin's Group Technical and Scientific Communication Director. Roget is pretty enthusiastic about the French tire brand's innovation and shared some insight about the tire's construction.
According to him, the Uptis is made up of belts and spokes, the latter being made of several thin and strong fiberglass to carry the weight of the vehicle. To protect its invention, Michelin apparently filed 50 patents for its development.
Not The First Airless Tire Concept But Could Be The First To Hit The Market:
Mr. JWW then had a test drive with the Uptis-fitted Cooper SE, which is kind of a big deal as he's one of the first outside Michelin to test it on a car. It's a sublime concept, and we couldn't help but imagine the product's public reception once it hits the market in its target launch year in 2024.
Of note, the Michelin Uptis won't be the first attempt into creating airless tires as a concept but at this rate, it's highly probable that it will be the first to be offered for public use.