Chevy Bolt is the First Car to Ride on Airless Tires
Michelin and GM have partnered up to bring the airless tires to customer cars by running a limited test fleet of electric Chevrolet Bolts in the south-east area of Michigan.
The concept behind this tire isn't all that new as Michelin introduced such idea 14 years ago and is already selling for smaller lawn and construction vehicles.
These new tires, called Uptis, work the same way. Sandwiched between the wheel and outer tread are rubber spokes that substitute for air pressure, but this time, they work with high speeds and twisty turns as well. We just need to see how well.
And this is where GM steps in, who is reassuring us that "the Detroit area is will be a brutal test environment for any kind of tire" with its rough roads and colder climate. If everything goes well, GM is planning to offer airless tires as an option on some of its vehicles by 2024.
What are the benefits of airless tires?
Compared to conventional tires, Uptis has several, chief among which is that you can't get a flat or low pressure. Therefore there is no need for pressure sensors, spare tires, jacks, tools or inflation kits, and that shaves off some weight from the car.
Although this doesn't seem like a significant weight saving, every little bit helps with the heavy electric cars and their limited range.
Since the sides are open, there is less bounce on impact, as any air pressure caused by it escapes between the spokes. The ride is softer.
And another advantage is safety and convenience. You will be at peace knowing that you won't be left stranded or crashed because of the tire blowout, and you never need to check the pressure again. Nice!
Maybe it's just me, or maybe it is a case of getting used to the new look, but these tires look... not sexy for sure. Even more so with this tiny wheel. But I know, we can have wheel hubs that cover the tires sides as well!
Also, things can get lodged in between these spokes and change the tire handling characteristics, and how resistant are those spokes to tearing? I guess that's what Michelin and GM are working on to find out.
What do you think? Should the wheel be reinvented?
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