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GM, Michelin look to reinvent the wheel with airless, puncture-proof tires

an airless tire travels over rocks
Steve Fecht for General Motors

General Motors passenger vehicles could have airless, puncture-proof tires as early as 2024, Michelin and GM announced Tuesday

The airless technology, dubbed the Uptis Prototype (Unique Puncture-Proof Tire System), would eliminate flat tires and blowouts - a factor likely appealing to consumers, and with the added benefit of reducing waste and raw materials. The prototype would also help tires last longer as there would be less wear and tear caused by over- and under-inflation. 

“General Motors is excited about the possibilities that Uptis presents, and we are thrilled to collaborate with Michelin on this breakthrough technology,” Steve Kiefer, senior vice president, Global Purchasing and Supply Chain, General Motors, said in a press release. “Uptis is an ideal fit for propelling the automotive industry into the future and a great example of how our customers benefit when we collaborate and innovate with our supplier partners.”

In 2018, Popular Mechanics reported that automobiles produced 246 million waste tires in the United States alone. 

Reducing tire waste is part of a $2.5 million grant project announced by the state of Michigan in February. The grants would support "essential equipment and materials that aid in the establishment of new markets, including various manufacturing processes, implementation and testing of paving materials, energy generation, and other innovative approaches."

In Michigan, whole scrapped tires have been banned from landfills, according to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). Illegal dumping of tires poses fire risk, as well as human health risk as dumped tires can lead to mosquito breeding grounds. To dispose of tires, one must take them to registered collection sites, tire retailers, or tire recyling agencies.

Jodi is Michigan Public's Director of Digital Audiences, leading and developing the station’s overall digital strategy.
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