Airless tires will arrive in 2024: another two years and will be commercially available for passenger cars for sale and on the aftermarket. After years of waiting and testing, they promise to give drivers a worry-free experience. Could it be true?
The auto industry is on the brink, blasting the charge with electric vehicles, driven by an urgent need for change. Advanced technologies in all fields, from emissions to performance through semi-autonomous driving algorithms, flex their muscles every day. One of the much anticipated cornerstones for the cars of the future, however, has been here for years. It promises and never keeps: it's about the tires, or as I like to say, “the tires”.
Well, apparently there we really are: the advent of this epochal transition is just two years away. 2024 will give us airless tires, which never puncture.
2024, the airless era begins
Difficult to reinvent the wheel, you will tell me. And you are right. To the point that we have seen very few changes under our vehicles. One of these, the removal of the inner tube and the “tubeless” design, is now almost a century old. Since Charles Goodyear invented this solution and some giants (Michelin and Dunlop above all) have marketed it, a lot of water has passed, sorry: air under the bridge.
A few years ago Michelin started working on an airless solution. Uptis, the French manufacturer's proprietary system, has pioneered a completely different approach to tires. An approach that no longer relies on air pressure to support the weight of the vehicle. And that, yes, would be a major change.
How do “airless” tires work?
Uptis is the first passenger car tire to feature an airless approach. It can be equipped with an aluminum wheel, and consists of a flexible support structure made of glass fiber reinforced plastic (GFRP). It still has the normal treads we are used to seeing. However, its side wall is different and unique, as it is open. It is called airless for this reason: no air is needed. There is also rubber in it.
Airless tires therefore have the characteristic of being "puncture proof". They can go over nails, glass, anything. Less waste, goodbye mountains of damaged tires and disposed of in more or less lawful ways. A solution destined to remain, don't you think?
Two sizes slated for debut in 2024: 17-inch and 20-inch. And among the things we will say goodbye, of course, there is also tire pressure control at petrol stations.