GM to test flat-proof airless tires on Michigan roads

Nora Naughton
The Detroit News
The Michelin Uptis Prototype is tested on a Chevrolet Bolt EV May 29 at the General Motors Milford Proving Ground in Milford.

Detroit — General Motors Co. is teaming up with Michelin to test flat-proof airless tires on Michigan's rough roads.

The airless technology is designed to eliminate flats and blowouts, often a side-effect of driving on pothole-covered roads.

GM and Michelin will begin later this year real-world testing of their prototype airless tire, dubbed Uptis, on a Michigan-based test fleet of Chevrolet Bolt EVs.

GM and Michelin are aiming to introduce the new airless tires on mass-market passenger vehicles by 2024.

"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, GM’s senior vice president of global purchasing and supply chain, in a statement. "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 addition to better weathering pockmarked roads, the Uptis prototype is more environmentally friendly, GM says. The opaque tires are designed to last longer and require fewer raw materials and waste to develop.

Michigan has such a pervasive problem with crumbling roads and bridges Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was elected in 2018 on a platform of "Fix The Damn Roads."

Whitmer responded to the news Wednesday afternoon on Twitter: "We've failed to #FTDR for so long that @GM has decided to just fix the damn tires instead!"

GM intends to develop this airless wheel assembly with Michelin and aims to introduce it on passenger vehicles as early as 2024.

Twitter: @NoraNaughton