The concept of airless tires has been around for decades but with little hope of production possibilities. That’s all set to change with Michelin introducing a production ready airless tire for cars such as the MINI.
Airless tires are actually in the market now and available in many commercial and industrial applications. But the new “VISION” concept that Michelin intends to bring to market is intended for a wide range of cars including MINIs that Michelin has been testing the tire on. It’s first named partner will be GM but there’s clearly a chance we’ll see this with other OEMs such as MINI.
Airless Tire Benefits
Let’s start with safety. Obviously there are no concerns about getting a flat so that eliminates the biggest risk with tires. But beyond that the tires design allows water to escape in small holes treating much better resistance to aquaplaning.
Then there’s the impact on the earth. Airless tires take less raw material and energy to produce which decreases the environmental impact greatly. Additionally Michelin estimates they’l last up to three times longer than standard tires making the need for replacement less likely throughout the life of the car.
Finally there are also upsides in terms of performance. The tires internal spokes can be precisely tuned to meet different performance characteristics depending on the car or need. You can individually tune things such as stiffness under acceleration, braking, cornering and even how they handle bumps in corners. That last bit is of particular performance as it could impact suspension design and allow for the tires to do more work.
Will MINI Offer Airless Tires?
It’s unclear but we know that MINI (and BMW) have long been an innovator in the space since they made runflats standard across much of the MINI range in 2001. Further BMW and Michelin have been technical partners in both motorsports and road cars often collaborating on new technology. It’s also not be accident that Michelin has been using a MINI to show the public this new technology.
Which leads us to the question – would you buy a MINI with airless tires? If the performance was the same would you prefer the look? Let us know below.