Innovation has pretty much finished with car tires right, I mean, what’s left to change? How about the whole “air” part?
Michelin’s attempt to tackle tire trash around the world saw them roll out puncture-proof “airless” tires, which they say should help reduce the 18% of all world tires that are discarded early due to punctures.
In September, an interesting showpiece at the Munich Auto Show was tire giant’s new concept for an airless tire that is immune to the punctures that render many useless.
Discarded tires are a huge worldwide waste problem—the U.S. produces 260 million discarded tires per year, many of which end up in landfills or on the sides of the freeway where they release harmful gases and microplastic pollutants as they break down.
Michelin’s Unique Puncture Proof Tire System or “UPTIS” is designed using 46% recycled material, and made from a plastic matrix laced with glass fibers that provide a flexible outer layer with a stiffer inner one.
“The truly distinctive structure of the Michelin UPTIS prototype, or its ‘weirdness’ as we have often heard it called, really attracted the attention of many visitors and left a lasting impression on them,” stated Cyrille Roget, Michelin Group Technical and Scientific Communications Director.
“It was an exceptional experience for us, and our greatest satisfaction came at the end of the demonstration when our passengers, who were admittedly a little wary at first, said they felt no difference compared with conventional tires.”
This isn’t just a European “green” plan to satisfy politicians, the internal spokes of the tire can be tuned to exquisite detail, New Atlas reports, to improve handling or comfort.
Michelin believes airless tires will improve everyone’s lives. With tires less susceptible to wear from the roads, maintenance costs for company’s vehicle fleets will be less expensive, while inexperienced car owners won’t accidentally ruin their rubbers by driving them while they are over- or under-inflated.
No current price has been suggested, and even though they’ve been in development since 2005, they aren’t likely to be available for another 24-36 months. In another 30 years, Michelin hope to manufacture only airless tires, with 100% recycled material.