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Jun 26, 2019,  by Allianz Partners Business Insights

Michelin unveils an airless puncture-proof tyre and plans a 2024 launch

Michelin presented a puncture-proof tyre in early June. Developed in partnership with US General Motors, the prototype is made of composite material and requires no air at all. The new tyre is due for launch in 2014, though a number of tests will need to be conducted before drivers can make use of a product described by Michelin’s head of R&D as “truly revolutionary”. 

Photo credits: Ansa

A puncture-proof tyre is just the kind of invention that drivers have been waiting for. On June 4 in Montréal (Canada), Michelin unveiled the prototype for a new generation of tyres, developed in partnership with General Motors and which it plans to launch on the market in 2024. As well as giving drivers more peace of mind, the tyre will also have “potentially huge environmental benefits”, according to Eric Vinesse, Michelin Group Executive VP for Research and Development.

A Michelin tyre without drawbacks

“It’s a truly revolutionary product,” he added at a press conference held at the Movin'On Summit on sustainable mobility. “Around 200 million tyres have to be thrown away every year around the world due to punctures or under- or over-inflation. That’s equivalent in weight to 200 Eiffel Towers.”

Named Uptis (Unique Puncture-Proof Tire System), the prototype makes use of a new technology based on composite materials that, according to its designers, offer similar performance to conventional tyres. “You have all the elements of a Michelin tyre but without the drawbacks,” commented Michelin’s newly appointed CEO, Florent Menegaux.

Designed for autonomous vehicles too 

The prototype is currently being tested on General Motors’ Chevrolet Bolt EV cars. The American giant is a development partner of the Michelin group, and as Menegaux added, “They’re helping us with their testing to finalise the development of this type of products for a vehicle.” Such testing is necessary before the tyres can be launched for use on production cars. 

“At this stage of development we need an automaker to support us,” said the Michelin CEO. The puncture-proof tyres would also be made available for autonomous cars, as Menegaux went on to explain: “An autonomous car can’t handle punctured tires and can't deal with being immobilized. This tyre provides a response to all those issues.”

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Cover photo credits: Michelin

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