Michelin Tweel Airless Tyre To Get Dedicated Factory In USA Photo:

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Tony O'Kane | Nov, 16 2014 | 4 Comments

Remember the Tweel? Once lauded as the next-big-thing in car technology, Michelin's Tweel blends the functions of the wheel and tyre into a single unit that used flexible spokes instead of air.

It's not the only airless tyre around - rival company Bridgestone has its own non-pneumatic tyre concept - but the Tweel is arguably the first to be commercialised.

And with a dedicated Tweel factory in South Carolina set to open this month, Michelin is clearly banking big on its airless tyre tech.

But while initial concepts of the Tweel were shown mounted to passenger cars, Michelin isn't ready to make them available for road-going vehicles just yet.

Instead, Michelin's American-made Tweels will be destined for large ride-on lawnmowers, bobcats and other light earthmoving, construction and landscaping equipment.

In these applications, the Tweel's ability to never run flat is its greatest virtue, while also having much greater compliance than a solid rubber tyre and less material going to landfill when the (replaceable) tread runs out.

However, unfavourable heat dispersion and high rolling resistance characteristics make the Tweel unsuitable for road cars, at least in their current form. If you want to roll on a Tweel, better get yourself a ride-on lawnmower.

To see the Tweel in action, check out the video.

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