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Michelin and GM bringing airless tires to the road in 2024

No spare tire? No emergency jack? No flat-tire repair kit? No worries, because these futuristic new tires need no pressure.

Taking the air out of someone is generally seen as a bad move, but when it comes to tires, there are some very real benefits. Michelin has been researching what it would take to bring a pressure-free tire to market for years and now, in partnership with General Motors, the company is saying we might see these Uptis tires on the road as soon as 2024. The two companies announced the product in June at the Movin'On Summit for sustainable mobility. 

A more reality-based evolution of the company's fanciful Vision Concept Tire, Uptis takes the Tweel airless tire that's already available on commercial vehicles and applies it to a consumer use. Instead of relying on air pressure, the internal composite structure of the Uptis provides all the support the tread needs. (Uptis, by the way, stands for "Unique Puncture-proof Tire System.")

Why is this a benefit? No blow-outs, for one thing. Michelin says that this, plus the reduction in abnormal wear thanks to improperly inflated tires, could provide a major reduction in the 200 million tires scrapped every year prematurely due to damage. Sustainable tires? It's a good first step. 

Michelin Uptis Airless Tire

The Chevrolet Bolt EV is the first test car for the Uptis tire. 

Steve Fecht/Michelin

"But what about performance?" I hear you asking, and that remains to be seen. The first test application for the Uptis will be the Chevrolet Bolt EV, a fun but hardly sporting car. These tires are in fact slightly heavier than traditional run-flats, 50 pounds versus 51 including the wheel, but Michelin says this deficit can be reduced by eliminating flat-tire kits and jacks from production cars.

If all goes according to plan, Michelin and GM hope to have these tires on the road for "select GM models" in the next five years, with other manufacturers hopefully coming on board after that. Compact spare tire, your days are now officially numbered.