Are Airless Car Tires the Future?

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A UTV with airless tires climbing over a pile of logs.
Something you may or may not have heard of are airless car tires. While the concept might sound improbable, the technology of airless tires is not only possible, but has existed for more than a decade.
And as the automotive industry continues to make strides, airless car tires may become the next iteration for standard car wheels. Still, car owners want to know: what are airless tires?

When were airless tires invented

According to New Atlas, airless tires first came onto the scene more than 16 years ago in 2005, with the introduction of Michelin’s airless tire technology, the Tweel.
While the idea gained a lot of traction, the Tweel didn’t make it onto any street cars in the last decade. Airless tire technology has been successfully used in some capacity though on some off-road vehicles and mobility devices.
Today, Michelin has teamed up with GM to design and sell an airless tire specifically for passenger cars called Uptis
This product is a full-wheel solution that requires specialized rims. Uptis promises to solve many of the problems caused by traditional pneumatic tire technology, as well as boasts a longer lifespan without changing the driver’s experience at all.

How airless tires work

The idea of an airless tire might make some skeptical. How can airless tires perform better? Why reinvent the wheel?
Well, as most drivers know, pneumatic tires have some drawbacks. Michelin estimates that 200 million tires every year hit the junkyards thanks to punctures, blowouts and early wear.
Airless tires promise an end to these issues. Airless tires have flexible spokes inside the rim that are fully adjustable to driving performance. They can be optimized for acceleration, braking, cornering and bumps or uneven terrain by adjusting the stiffness of these spokes.

More benefits of airless tire tech

Airless tires also take less energy and use less material, specifically rubber, to make. Combined with the estimated three-times longer lifespan of the product, this is a big plus for airless tires. 
They are not only more potentially cost-efficient, they are more eco-friendly. And they could cut back on those 200 million rubber tires being dumped in the landfill every year.
Lastly, airless tires are potentially more resistant to aquaplaning on wet roads, making them a safer choice. With airless tires, holes can be punched right through the tread to release water, without damaging product performance.

The tire of the future?

With this innovative technology, it’s easy to see how airless tires might become a trend in the future.
Despite taking more than 16 years to get off the ground, Michelin and GM aim to offer airless tires as an option on passenger vehicles as early as 2024. 
And as we’ve seen, the automotive industry has been steadily becoming greener, more environmentally conscious, and is embracing emerging technology such as electric cars. The traditional ways of the industry are fading.
And since Michelin has seen that the driving experience of airless tires is pretty much the same, why not start switching to improved technology?

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