All About Airless Tires | NPTs are Coming & We Think They Rock

For over a century, the design of tires has remained consistent. However, that is about to change. Now, there are tires available that do not require air. Here, we will discuss what are airless tires and should they belong in your vehicle. 

What are Non Pneumatic Tires (NPT), Flat Free or Airless Tires

Non-Pneumatic Tires (NPT) are tires that do not require air. Instead, the tire’s treads support the weight of the vehicle using a web or spoke design. One of the main advantages of NPT tires is that they do not fluctuate in pressure. Therefore, NPT tires have a longer life than air-filled tires. 

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How do airless tires work

Airless tires use a spoke design to provide support for the tire. Thus, the tire can function without the dependence on air. The first thing that you should know about Non-Pneumatic Tires (NPT) is that they can not puncture and their ability to function. This can be a big advantage for off-road or hazardous road conditions. 

What are non-pneumatic tires made of 

Currently, NPT tires are made of either solid rubber or plastic. Currently, you will find examples of NPT tires on non-car vehicles such as golf carts, lawnmowers, and trailers. 

How do they perform? 

NPT tires can perform especially well in off-road conditions where conventual air-filled tires are prone to puncture. Also, NPT tires perform better over the long term because they do not experience a change in air pressure. 

Do they “corner” like pneumatic tires?

Right now, NPT tires are not as good as air-filled tires when it comes to speed and cornering. That’s because the lighter weight an air-filled tire works its advantage when cornering at higher speeds. However, NPT tires are still in their infancy and further advancements may make them better at cornering and acceleration.

Are non-pneumatic tires good? 

NPT tires are good when it comes to certain applications. For instance, if you need to drive a truck over rocky terrain, then you will want to consider NPT tires. Also, if you are looking to drive at lower speeds and want long-lasting tires, then you will want to consider NPT tires. 

Are airless tires available for cars?

Currently, Michelin offers the Uptis tire for passenger vehicles. In addition to Michelin, there are other tires and automotive companies that are developing NPT tires for sale including Goodyear, Bridgestone, and General Motors.

Are airless tires for cars dangerous?

While NPT tires offer a number of advantages, there are some reasons not to consider them for your vehicle. First, NPT tires can not disperse heat as well as air-filled tires. That means that NPT tires can run considerably hotter versus air-filled tires. 

Also, NPT tires are heavier than air-filled tires. This can add weight to your vehicle. As you know, weight can be the enemy of speed. Therefore, if you want a fast-performing vehicle, then NPT tires may not be for you.

Finally, NPT tires will cause your vehicle to have a lower suspension. This can equal a rougher ride. 

What company makes airless tires for cars?

Currently, Michelin, Goodyear, Bridgestone, and General Motors are developing NPT tires for the commercial and passenger vehicle market. Of the four companies, Michelin is the furthest ahead. That’s because they are the first company to bring airless tires for the passenger vehicle market with their Uptis tire. Also, Michelin was the first company to develop a working NPT prototype for passenger tires in 2019.

As more research and development is done on NPT tires, it is expected that more companies will bring airless tires to the market. 

How much will airless tires cost?

Right now, airless tires are demanding a $55 to $60 premium over regular tires. That’s because NPT tires are a lower volume-selling tire and technology on NPT tires are more complex. However, as NPT tires are sold in higher volume, it is expected that the overall cost of these tires will go down. 

How long do Michelin airless tires last 

Right now, Michelin does not have a stated mileage or age limit to their Uptis tires. However, it is expected that airless tires will last three times as long as air-filled tires. This is because NPT tires can not easily puncture as air-filled tires. Also, the design of NPT tires makes them tougher and more durable than air-filled tires. 

Can you retread airless tires?

Currently, it is possible to retread a number of different types of airless tires including foam tires and industrial solid tires. Therefore, it should be possible to retreat NPT tires. By retreading airless tires, they should be able to last a much longer time than air-filled tires. 

Why don’t people use airless tires?

There are a number of reasons why airless tires are not widely used. First, NPT tires have need be approved for road used by most state motor vehicle divisions. Also, NPT tires do not give you a distinct advantage when it comes to highway driving. This will make it difficult for airless tires to get wide acceptance. Finally, there simply aren’t many companies that are developing NPT tires. 

That being said, NPT tires offer many advantages when it comes to off-road driving. Therefore, NPT tires should be able to cut a niche for themselves with certain drivers. Over time, it can be expected that NPT tires will find an audience in the consumer market. 

When will they be available to consumers?

According to Car and Driver magazine, NPT tires for passenger vehicles should be widely available for consumer and industrial markets as early as 2024. Currently, airless tires are available to consumer smaller vehicles such as golf carts, lawnmowers, and trailers. 

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