Airless tyres are on their way

posted in: General News, Technology

Your days of putting air in your tyres are numbered. Prepared to wave goodbye to the garage air gauge.

Checking Car Tyre Pressure With Air Gauge

We dread to think just how much time we’ve spent checking tyre pressures over the years. Tot up every check on every vehicle at every TJS Self Drive branch over the last 45 years and I imagine it would amount to months – and possibly years.

It’s not that we begrudge checking tyre pressures – it’s essential to a safe rental vehicle – but we’ve always wished there was some innovation that could make the job a thing of the past. So you can imagine our joy at one news item this week.

Unveiling Uptis

GM and Michelin this week gave us our first look at Uptis (Unique Puncture-proof Tire System). It’s not the first airless tyre, but where this differs is that its rubber and resin embedded fibreglass construction enables vehicles using it to travel at motorway speeds – and that’s something that hasn’t previously been possible.

Looks-wise it takes a little getting used to. When you’re used to seeing a solid tyre, putting your confidence in a tyre that appears to have been ‘hollowed out’ feels a little strange, but the benefits stretch far beyond making life easier for vehicle hire companies.

Benefits of airless

Of course the big problems with an inflatable tyre are i) the air needs to be regularly topped up and ii) hit a big nail and you’ll need a costly puncture repair or even worse, a new tyre. But the Uptis takes nails in its stride, meaning that the industry uses fewer tyres and wastes less rubber.

There’s no need to inflate (because there’s nothing to inflate), so all of those tyres that currently have their lifespan shortened because they never have their pressure checked will suddenly last much longer.

And as we move ever closer to wholly intelligent autonomous vehicles, a tyre you can’t puncture means one less thing for the AI system to learn and monitor.

Coming soon(ish)

GM is set to start trialling the new tyres on its electric vehicles in the US soon and aims to have the tyres on the road by 2024. Which means that, within the next five years, our days of checking the tyre pressure on our rental cars could seem as outdated as using a manual choke or displaying a tax disc.

Need to arrange your next vehicle hire? Get in touch to find our best prices (and we promise to check the tyres).
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