Goodyear Airless Tires Spotted Testing on Tesla Model 3, Set to Rival Michelin UPTIS?

Goodyear was seen testing a prototype on a Tesla Model 3 this week as the race to bring an airless tire to the market is on. The Goodyear non-pneumatic, airless tires (NPT) are still early in the testing phase, but video of the testing looks promising. What are some of the main roadblocks to bringing an airless tire to market, and will Goodyear be the first to do it?

Inside EVs spotted the Goodyear airless tires on a Tesla Model 3

Goodyear Airless Tires
The Goodyear airless tire prototype | Goodyear

A Tesla Model 3 was spotted with Goodyear airless tires, according to Inside EVs. The tires are prototypes that have been in the design phase for many years. The idea is to use sustainable materials to offer a maintenance-free tire by 2030. The focus of this test was to use a high-performance electric vehicle at high speeds. Inside EVs reports that the Model 3 tested the tires up to 100 mph on the track.

Goodyear says that the Model 3 successfully maneuvered at 55 mph. The video of the adventure shows that the EV wobbles a bit as it moves through the cones. Perhaps that is why there is a discrepancy between the 100 mph testing and the “successfully maneuvered at 55 mph” statement. The test also consisted of acceleration and deceleration, which seems to have gone well. Goodyear claims the third-party drivers offered positive feedback after the testing.

Goodyear wants the airless tires to be safe, maintenance free, and long lasting

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All of those promises come with a unique challenge. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) attributes nine percent of the total crashes to tire-related issues. This can be problems with tire tread, blowouts, bald tires, or under/overinflation. The airless tire hopes to be able to solve some of those issues.

In addition to testing the non-pneumatic, airless tires on passenger vehicles like the Tesla Model 3, Goodyear has also been testing on autonomous passenger shuttles. The Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) is participating in this testing on AV shuttles.

Michael Rachita, Goodyear’s senior program manager, said the company was excited to continue testing the tires. “We have shown that Goodyear’s NPTs can achieve highway speeds while also maintaining the dynamic handling required for a consumer vehicle, which is a meaningful milestone,” she said to Inside EVs.

The race is on for companies to make a viable option

Tire companies have been creating a tire that doesn’t require air for more than 20 years. Only in recent times has it become more of a priority as the shift toward sustainability ramps up. With an airless tire such as this one, less waste will be associated with tire wear and other issues. Drivers will have to replace the tires less frequently. Companies will require fewer resources to create tires and can use recycled materials instead.

One of the most significant issues seems to come from the challenge of heavier vehicles needing bigger tires to balance out the weight. Also, the video from Goodyear’s testing shows how Goodyear could improve maneuverability. Issues like this are some of the main reasons, and airless tire is not mainstream yet.

For now, Goodyear hopes the airless tires will be on the road by 2030. The Michelin Uptis (Unique Puncture-Proof Tire System) tire might be ready a bit sooner by 2025.

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