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Michelin Partners with DHL to Trial Airless Puncture-Proof Tire

First-ever pilot on Singapore roads will see prototype tires fitted to nearly 50 DHL delivery vehicles in Singapore by the end of 2023.

Stephen Moore

January 13, 2023

3 Min Read
Michelin's airless puncture-proof tire
Image courtesy of Michelin

Nearly 50 DHL Express vans will begin running on Michelin Uptis airless tires to make last-mile deliveries in Singapore by the end of 2023. The pilot program began with the first vehicles making delivery trips from Jan. 10 of this year. One year ahead of schedule, the very first Michelin Uptis tires are now marketed in real-world conditions.

The Michelin Uptis prototype is a puncture-proof tire and wheel assembly with no compressed air and is intended for cars and light vans. The air has been replaced by a revolutionary structure capable of supporting the vehicle. This ensures the wheel’s robustness and guarantees driving comfort and safety. It was designed as a plug-and-play solution that allows users to drive conveniently and not worry about road hazards impacting the tires. It also limits the number of tires scrapped due to punctures.

With the Michelin Uptis tire, DHL can optimize its fleet’s productivity and ensure business continuity, as tire pressure issues and punctures are eliminated. This will lower the frequency of tire replacement, leading to less wastage.

Nearly 50 DHL Express vans will begin running on the Michelin Uptis airless puncture-proof tire to make last-mile deliveries in Singapore by the end of 2023.

“Michelin Uptis is a major breakthrough innovation in the tire field. This is a result of some fifty patents linked to the tire’s structure and high-tech materials,” said Bruno De Feraudy, Director of OEM activities for the Michelin Group. “It demonstrates Michelin’s capacity for innovation in favor of safer mobility that is better for the environment. We are delighted that DHL is trusting Michelin to equip its fleet with the very first Michelin Uptis tires, marketed one year ahead of schedule.”

According to a patent filed by Michelin, “Spoke Edge Geometry for a Non-Pneumatic Tire,” the spokes in the airless tire can be made from “liquid polyurethane in a mold.” It is contemplated that “other thermosetting or thermoplastic materials could be used.” Another patent describes a “continuous loop reinforcement assembly or yarn with a higher melt temperature material and lower melt temperature material configured in a core/sheath arrangement combined with a polyurethane matrix material.”

“As a pioneer in green logistics, we are excited to partner with Michelin to trial its airless tires on our vehicles in Singapore,” said Christopher Ong, Managing Director at DHL Express Singapore. “To drive sustainability efforts here, we have since converted 80 vehicles in our ground fleet to electric vans. 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.”

Airless technology is the key to Michelin’s vision of a fully sustainable tire by 2050. Today, 20% of tires are scrapped prematurely due to flats and blowouts (12%) or irregular wear and tear caused by poor tire pressure (8%). Based on internal research, Michelin projects that Uptis airless technology could prevent premature scrapping of up to 200 million tires a year worldwide or 2 million tonnes of material — a material savings roughly equivalent to the weight of 200 Eiffel Towers.

About the Author(s)

Stephen Moore

Stephen has been with PlasticsToday and its preceding publications Modern Plastics and Injection Molding since 1992, throughout this time based in the Asia Pacific region, including stints in Japan, Australia, and his current location Singapore. His current beat focuses on automotive. Stephen is an avid folding bicycle rider, often taking his bike on overseas business trips, and is a proud dachshund owner.

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