Leave it to Michelin to save the day with its Vision concept tire. The thought of an airless tire isn’t new, but the Vision isn’t just a retake on that old idea. It’s actually a complex assembly that incorporates both the wheel and the tire. And, of course, it’s 3D-printed.
The Vision concept tire (even though it would be much more accurate to call it a wheel) resembles the internal structure of a sponge, but it’s definitely more durable than your bath accessory. However, it’s also made out of bio-sourced, biodegradable materials, so it’s completely friendly toward the environment.
So far, there’s no real reason to call it hi-tech. Ah, but here is the best part. The Vision tire (wheel, whatever) communicates with the driver in real time, informing them of the tire’s condition. Based on the destination chosen in the sat nav, it will also inform the driver if they need to switch to a winter tire configuration.
But that won’t require loading up the winter tires in your trunk and heading over to your local tire shop to change them. Pff, that sounds so 21st century. Instead, the Michelin envisions a set network of tire printing stations scattered around – much like EV charging stations – where you can stop for a few minutes while the 3D printers change the thread of your tires.
New configurations won’t be limited to weather conditions. You can also make changes as you prepare to enter your favorite road section, so you’d like a little more grip. Or if your battery/fuel tank is running low, you could go for a low rolling resistance configuration to make sure you reach the next charging/gas station.
Michelin calls the Vision concept “a realistic dream,” and as far as the technology involved goes, we’d have to agree. However, it also looks like a very distant dream, and that’s because tires are among the last in the pecking order of things we’d like to change on our cars. Sorry, Michelin, if you crave for hi-tech stuff, you’re in the wrong line of work.