And it's all running ahead of schedule.
Uptis hits roadways with Michelin, DHL partnership
DID YOU KNOW?
Uptis is an acronym.
Michelin's Uptis tire is named for its form and function as a Unique Puncture-proof Tire System.
DHL delivery vehicles fitted with the nonpneumatic, puncture-proof tire took to the streets in Singapore for the first time Jan. 10, marking a major milestone in the product's development.
"Thanks to a partnership between DHL and Michelin, Michelin's airless prototype tire has taken another step forward," the tire maker said in a statement. "One year ahead of schedule, the very first Michelin Uptis tires are now marketed in real-world conditions."
By the end of 2023, Uptis will be fitted to roughly 50 DHL Express last-mile delivery vans in Singapore, according to the tire maker.
Uptis represents a big step forward for Michelin, expanding its expertise in the nonpneumatic tire space. With Tweel, Michelin successfully took the airless tire concept to off-road applications and has remained a leader in the development of the technology in that segment.
With Uptis, however, Michelin brings the technology to the passenger vehicle space, an arena that has imagined the possibilities of airless tire designs, but never really found the right fit. The French tire maker believes that Uptis could be the segment's answer and has spent the last three years or so developing Uptis for this purpose along with its partner General Motors.
More than that, though, Uptis represents Michelin's ultimate "vision" for future tire mobility, one that is built around 100-percent sustainability, safety and ingenuity.
"Michelin Uptis is a major breakthrough innovation in the tire field," Bruno De Feraudy, director of OEM activities for the Michelin Group, said in a statement. "This is a result of some 50 patents linked to the tire's structure and high-tech materials. It demonstrates Michelin's capacity for innovation in favor of safer mobility that is better for the environment."
And when it comes to the environment, Michelin said Uptis could have quite an impact.
Michelin estimates 12 percent of tires are scrapped early because of punctures or irreparable air loss damage. Another 8 percent are scrapped early due to improper wear. Because Uptis is puncture-proof and has no air pressure to maintain, it could potentially reduce prematurely scrapped tires by as much as 20 percent—or about 200 million tires annually.
Because the tire is both airless and puncture-proof, it provides a level of safety that traditional pneumatic tires can't. Moreover, without the need to maintain optimal air pressure or change out tires that have been punctured, cut or otherwise damaged, individuals and fleets can optimize their vehicles' range, fuel efficiency and uptime.
And all of that adds up to savings—economical and environmental—for DHL.
"As a pioneer in green logistics, we are excited to partner with Michelin to trial its airless tires on our vehicles in Singapore," Christopher Ong, managing director at DHL Express Singapore, said in a statement. "… This collaboration marks another milestone for us as we set out to green our last mile operations and achieve net-zero carbon emissions across the DHL network globally."
To this end, DHL has converted 80 of its ground fleet delivery vehicles to electrified models. And Uptis, Michelin said, is well-suited for this transition as it supports both ICE and EV vehicle models with performance and maintenance-free characteristics.
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