Are airless tires the future? Introducing the Michelin Uptis

Uptis which stands for Unique Puncture-Proof Tire System has already been in the media for a few years at this point, and customers have been asking when they are going to arrive.

It is amazing how much interest there has been in this unique revolution in airless tire technology. Since the first pneumatic tire was developed in 1845 vehicle owners have been plagued with nails in their tires or pesky slow leaks. 

Many different ways of repairing these leaks have been invented over the years and perfected. From the simple push plug to the sophisticated air compressor/slime injectors that many new modern vehicles are equipped with today, we have always had to deal with that flat tire on Monday morning.

Michelin has stated that over 20% of tires that are scrapped each year are due to air related issues. From tires that have been run flat to irregular tire wear over 200 million tires are wasted each year.

 Thankfully Michelin has put that into very imaginable numbers for us. “200 Times the weight of the Eiffel Tower”, it states on Yes, that easily understood form of measurement we learned in our childhood. Now is that metric Eiffel Towers or imperial?

I am sure that is the reason for all of the interest when the Michelin Uptis was first announced. Imagine a tire without air, all of your problems would be gone. Well, except maybe an easy excuse for being late to work….

Unveiled in 2019, General Motors has been working with Michelin as co-development partners tirelessly to bring tomorrow’s technology to vehicles today. Their original goal was to have the tires ready as early as 2024. 

Photo of a Michelin Uptis tire driving over a nail

We have seen the tires on a Mini at the IAA Munich in 2021. However, with this first generation of tire we wonder, as with new technology, what issues may arise. 

First let’s remember how game changing this technology is. With an airless tire like the Michelin Uptis the need to check pressures is eliminated. This is especially important for large fleets that need to reduce downtime. Or the self-driving vehicles of tomorrow that may taxi us around large cities.

Rumors also are afloat that the tire could last 3x longer than a conventional tire. This is important as I can only start to imagine how expensive these tires will be once they hit our local tire stores shelves. 

The questions that still remain in my mind that I would like to answer is what happens when they wear out. Will local tire shops be educated and trained in the replacement of the Michelin Uptis. 

Will there be multiple different tire sizes that I can install on the rim or will there need to be a different wheel/tire combination for every vehicle that is equipped with these tires. 

Even with all of these questions I really cannot help but be excited. It will be a pretty exciting time when vehicles are driving around not having to worry about low tire pressures. So, if your listening, bring on the Michelin Uptis. We are ready.  

Staff Writer
Staff Writer
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