We’ve all been there — stuck on the side of the road swapping out a flat tire for our spare in the pouring rain. For a fair number of us, that rainy flat tire happened to come on a day when you were wearing your best duds for an important meeting or your finest uniform for a pain in the ass inspection; either way, your day was ruined along with your clothes, and that’s before dealing with the annoyance of taking the tire in for repair or replacement.
In worse circumstances, a flat tire could leave you stranded in an unsafe situation and even put your life at risk… but maybe not for much longer. Michelin recently announced their intentions to introduce a new kind of tire to the market in 2024 — one that won’t get flat on you no matter how big a hole you tear in it: The Uptis (or Unique Puncture-proof Tire System).
These tires aren’t technically a “brand new” invention, seeing as tires of this sort have already existed for smaller applications like lawn mowers and bicycles for years, but this would mark the first time the use of rubbery spokes inside the tire itself replaced the need for air in tires meant to automotive applications. Those rubber spokes, Michelin claims, will not only eliminate the need for a sealed tire full of air, they also offer a smoother ride than the air-bags they would replace.
Of course, making it so you never get a flat tire again is awesome, but that doesn’t mean there wouldn’t be a downside to this new design. Unlike air, the structural rigidity of the internal rubber spokes will eventually wear out, making a tire that fails to hold its shape just like any flat would. It can also be assumed that filling your tires with rubber spokes rather than air will mean a lot of added weight — adding to the mass your engine needs to turn to keep your car moving and increasing the wear and tire on your vehicle over time.
Is that worth living in a world with no more rainy day flat tires? Michelin thinks so – how about you?
Feature Photo: Steve Fecht/courtesy General Motors