By: Jag Dhatt
Montreal, QC: Two years ago at the 2017 MovinOn Summit, Michelin announced a vision. For those unfamiliar with MovinOn, it is Michelin’s annual global summit that focuses on sustainable mobility. In 2017, Michelin made headlines when they announced their Vision Concept tire; this new innovation will be 3D printable, airless, connected, rechargeable, customizable, and organic. A truth is that the Vision Concept will not become a reality in the near future; however, according to Michelin, it is possible and there is a need.
In order to move towards the Vision Concept tire, Michelin announced today (June 4th, 2019) a concept that should be available within just five years – the new Michelin Uptis (Unique Punctureproof Tire System) Prototype.
The Uptis is a puncture proof tire with a unique structure, achieved by utilizing high-tech materials such as specialized rubber, aluminum and fiberglass-infused reinforcement.
This all-in-one tire and wheel combo, “is a perfect example of our ambition for tomorrow,” said Eric Vinesse, Executive Vice-President, Research & Development with Michelin. The company’s 4R strategy – namely Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Renew – is applied to all of their products with the focus in having a future that is sustainable, practical and conscious of global needs.
“The Uptis proves that the Vision tire is possible and not just a dream,” continued Vinesse.
In order to ensure that Uptis becomes a reality within the expected timeframe, Michelin and General Motors (GM) announced a joint research agreement under which the companies intend to validate the Uptis Prototype with the goal of introducing Uptis on passenger vehicles as early as 2024.
Michelin and GM are testing the Uptis Prototype on vehicles like the Chevy Bolt EV and later this year, the two companies will begin real-world testing of Uptis on a fleet of Bolt electric vehicles in Michigan.
“Uptis demonstrates that Michelin’s vision for a future of sustainable mobility is clearly an achievable dream,” said Florent Menegaux, chief executive officer for Michelin Group. “Through work with strategic partners like GM, who share our ambitions for transforming mobility, we can seize the future today.”
“General Motors is excited about the possibilities that Uptis presents, and we are thrilled to collaborate with Michelin on this breakthrough technology,” said Steve Kiefer, senior vice president, global purchasing and supply chain, General Motors. “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.”
Uptis will also have a positive impact on the environment. With over 20 million tires scrapped each year due to various conditions. Uptis, being airless, will have extraordinary environmental savings.
With respect to pricing, tire wear, and how often they may need to be replaced, the information was not available at time of this launch event. I believe once testing is complete, Michelin will make an announcement for the consumer market.
The MovinOn Summit is an event that showcases various companies’ initiatives, visions and commitments to delivering safer, more sustainable mobility solutions. And the Michelin Uptis, being tested on GM vehicles, is a clear example of such commitments that are not only needed, but needed sooner than later.