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Airless tyres for cars are on the way

Flat tyres have always been a pain in the neck, so it’s no surprise that alternatives to traditional pneumatic tyres have been in development since 1938. Decades later, airless tyres exist and are in use around the world – but only in low-speed, off-road equipment like golf cars and riding lawn mowers. But world-leading tyre manufacturer, Michelin, has developed a cutting-edge puncture-proof tyre design that may hit Aussie roads as soon as 2024. So what are airless tyres made of, and – flat tyres aside – what benefits do they offer us?

What are airless tyres made of?

Airless tyres, also known as punctureless tyres or non-pneumatic tyres (NPTs), are a type of tyre that are not supported by air pressure like traditional pneumatic tyres. Instead, they are supported by solid rubber and composite high-strength materials structured in various geometric shapes that maximise weight bearing capabilities. 

Exact designs and materials vary among manufacturers, but none until Michelin’s latest design – the Uptis prototype – have entered the passenger vehicle market yet. Michelin’s 2005 NPT design, the ‘Tweel’ (a combination of ‘tyre’ and ‘wheel’), was composed of radially-disposed blade-shaped spokes in pairs which connect the hub to the tread.

Bridgestone displayed its own NPT prototype, the ‘Air Free Concept’, at motoring shows in 2015.

The design with the most promise for everyday drivers is Michelin’s Uptis (Unique Puncture-Proof Tire System). Developed in collaboration with General Motors, the Uptis underwent early rounds of testing in 2020. It uses composite rubber and high-strength resin embedded fibreglass arranged in paired blade-shaped spokes. Though it’s yet to meet the safety specifications for passenger vehicles, Michelin and GM expect this isn’t far away. 

Benefits of airless tyres

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Airless tyres are better for you, your wallet, and ultimately, the planet. 

Airless tyres will reduce the risk of flat tyres, meaning less money spent on replacing and repairing them (and of course, on waiting for NRMA to arrive). Seeing as they don’t rely on air pressure to function, they’d also mean you don’t need to check air pressure or perform other types of maintenance. 

Perhaps their greatest benefit is sustainability. Raw material usage is reduced due to 3D printing, so production is streamlined. And, by drastically reducing the number of tyres scrapped due to unrepairable damage from punctures or road hazards or irregular wear, airless tyres offer significant potential to reduce waste. In fact, 200 million tyres scrapped each year – the equivalent of 200 Eiffel Towers in weight – could be addressed by Uptis if pushed to large-scale production.

We can’t say when we’ll see airless tyres on the roads in Australia, but it looks like the first candidate for fitment is the next model Chevrolet Bolt, an EV expected in 2025-26. 


Got a question about your tyres? We’ve got an expert to help. Drop into your local Express Lube or give us a call for fast and friendly service. 


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