Future Tesla Model 3 Vehicles May Run on Michelin Airless Tires
This was an exclusive experience for some selected members of the public who had the opportunity to take a ride and test this revolutionary tire. It is worth mentioning that the Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus (SR+) already comes with Michelin “Primacy MXM4 tires” - that have a treadwear rating of 500, a traction rating of A, and a temperature rating of A (500AA)-; which should get around 40,000 miles at a reasonable cost.
The advantages of this type of tires are clear: first, you can never get a flat tire by a puncture or a blowout - Michelin says that some 200 million tires a year arrive at the scrapyard early because of them. Second, you don't have to keep an eye on the tire pressure; that doesn’t only save you time: it eliminates all premature wear caused by deflation. Its internal radii are adjustable to meet desired performance characteristics; its stiffness can be individually adjusted under acceleration, braking, cornering, and for handling bumps. Pothole handling characteristics can even be adjusted to eliminate the need for an independent suspension on some types of vehicles. Holes can be drilled through the tread to allow water to escape, potentially creating much greater resistance to hydroplaning. It takes less raw material and less energy to make them, which makes them better for the environment, and Michelin has estimated that they will last up to three times longer than a conventional tire.
However, it is clear that it’s not been easy to market: 16 years is a long and difficult time & labor for a product, that clearly attracts interest from people. The “tweel” (Michelin first announced the Tweel in 2005: the name is a combination of the words tire and wheel because the Tweel doesn't use a traditional wheel hub assembly; a solid inner hub mounts to the axle, surrounded by polyurethane spokes arrayed in a pattern of wedges), which replaces the entire wheel assembly, has long been available for various off-road vehicles, but has yet to hit the road.
Dubbed “Uptis”, this product is a complete wheel solution that requires specialized tires. Michelin claims that it will withstand much greater impacts than a normal tire and wheel, and that it will have a “spectacularly” longer service life, without adding rolling resistance, without giving the driver a different feel and adding just 7% in weight to the tire - less than the weight of the existing run-flat tires. GM will begin offering Uptis as an option on select models "starting in 2024", and the association is working with US State Governments and the federal government itself to obtain regulatory approvals for street use. In fact, in 2019, GM said Michelin's airless tire innovation can make flat tires a thing of a past.
As mentioned at the beginning, the Uptis airless tire had its public appearance at the IAA in Munich and, by all accounts, the experience was the same as driving on a normal set of tires. They did not feel different. But that's what it's all about, Michelin hopes to introduce new and improved technology without changing the user experience.
Will Tesla adopt these revolutionary new tires for the Model 3, Model Y, and eventually, the Cybertruck?
Nico Caballero is the VP of Finance of Cogency Power, specializing in solar energy. He also holds a Diploma in Electric Cars from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, and enjoys doing research about Tesla and EV batteries. He can be reached at @NicoTorqueNews on Twitter. Nico covers Tesla and electric vehicle latest happenings at Torque News.