Press Release Banner

June 7, 2005 - Michelin R&D Reinventing the Wheel / Tweel™ Using Audi Cars

Putting the Tweel through its Paces
Future mobility and traditional ideas challenged at Michelin, inventors of the radial tire, and now, the Tweel.

Quick Rebound to Original Shape Michelin, the world's largest tire maker has announced a revolutionary replacement for the air-filled tire and called it the Tweel™. A fleet of Audi cars criss-cross Europe as part of the long term testing.The invention holds out the promise of incredibly increased performance and is already in production. What's so special about an engineering design that the company that invented radial tires can get so excited? How about not using any air? Michelin's Tweel is a radical departure from the tire we know today.

".... a new century has dawned and Tweel™ has proven its potential to transform mobility. Tweel™ enables us to reach levels of performance that quite simply aren't possible with today's conventional pneumatic technology," says Terry Gettys, president of Michelin Americas Research and Development Center in Greenville, S.C. "Major revolutions in mobility may come along only once in a hundred years." "The Tweel automotive application, as demonstrated on the Audi, is definitely a concept, an application with strong future potential," said Gettys. "Our concentration is to enter the market with lower-speed, lower-weight Tweel applications. What we learn from our early successes will be applied to Tweel fitments for passenger cars and beyond."

What Makes the Tweel™ So Special:

Heavy MovementThe simple "hub and spoke" design is much more than meets the eye. The secret lies in the spokes' and wheel's ability to deform and reform to original shape. Michelin's flexible spokes and wheel use no air, but will deliver ride characteristics like today's pneumatic tires. So much so that the Tweel prototype, demonstrated on the Audi A4, is within five percent of the rolling resistance and mass levels of current pneumatic tires. That translates to within one percent of the fuel economy of the OE fitment. Additionally, Michelin has increased the lateral stiffness by a factor of five, making the prototype unusually responsive in its handling. Most importantly, Michelin says the spokes and wheel portions can be tuned independantly of each other - meaning vertical stiffness (ride comfort) and lateral stiffness (handling and cornering) can be adjusted to pe rformance levels not available in traditional technology.

Don't look for this technology on the racks anytime soon. Form will follow function in the developement cycle and it will be some time before this technology "looks pretty". For the meantime, Michelin will take the lessons it learns today to improve its conventional radial tire offerings. However, in the future the Tweel may change everything we know about tires - imagine driving a future Audi without tire pressure guages, no flats or better yet, no blowouts. It's coming.

Click on any image and view a larger version.
Why did Michelin choose an Audi? Audi sports new shoes.

Interesting look but definitely short of consumer expectations in visual appeal. Imagine a driving future with no blowouts! How do the spokes carry the weight and bend?

Got Questions? - Call Toll-Free - I 888 465 5835  - 1 888 GO LLTEK

Click and and View List of ALL Press Releases   Click and View Entire List of Press Releases

Click and Return to LLTeK Home Page  Click and Return Home