ERJ staff report (DS)
Paris -- Michelin has announced a wheel containing an electric drive motor and braking- and suspension systems as part of its joint development with electric car maker, Venturi.
While this is far from the first time such a concept has been shown, Michelin claims it has developed smaller components, allowing its active wheel technology to be used on a much wider range of vehicles.
The active wheel is a more or less conventional rim surrounded by a tyre. In a normal wheel, the volume within the rim would contain only braking systems. However, with the active wheel, this volume contains a compact, powerful electric drive motor; a large-diameter braking disk and a passive-active suspension system.
The key benefit of the active wheel concept is design flexibility. However, the concept also allows for quieter vehicles, and reduces the local emissions from the vehicle, at the expense of more emissions from central power-generation facilties.
The result is that future vehicles no longer need internal combustion engines at either the front or rear of the vehicle, and the suspension system can be tucked away within the wheel volume. Further, each wheel can be driven independently, with no need for full-vehicle width axles or drive trains.
According to Michelin, depending on the amount of power or type of usage desired, a given vehicle may integrate four motors (one in each wheel) or two motors (in the front wheels, for example). In this way, the Michelin Active Wheel allows car manufacturers to continue designing both two and four-wheel drive cars.
The most advanced illustration of this achievement, said Michelin, is the new Venturi Volage roadster car, which is being unveiled in a world premiere at the 2008 Paris Motor Show. Fitted with the Michelin Active Wheel, the car is a roadster that is well ahead of its time.
The second vehicle-the new WILL-is built through a partnership involving Heuliez, Michelin and Orange. The world's first example of an EV capable of holding its own against traditional cars, this small-size vehicle can be adapted for use as both a passenger car and a utility vehicle. The WILL provides a practical solution to road transportation concerns in the areas of energy resources, urban pollution and personal safety.
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Download press release from Michelin (200k .DOC file)