The makers of hybrid and all electric cars have been toying with the idea of a hub or wheel that will be responsible for providing the power or propulsion of the vehicle for some time now. However, there has been one that has been put in anything other than prototypes as of yet. Now Michelin is taking the whole hub idea to the next level with it’s innovate “Active Wheel” system that combines the suspension, power, and braking all in one convenient package.
The Active Wheel is the sole propulsion system of the vehicles that it is installed in eliminating the need for a bulky engine. According to Michelin the Active Wheel can be installed in either the front or the rear of the vehicle to make it front or rear wheel drive and can also be fitted to all four corners making for a truly all-wheel drive vehicle.
As well as powering the car the Active Wheel features a smaller secondary motor that is fitted vertically across the wheel to control suspension. This suspension, which is electronically controlled, can react to bumps and dips at the rate of 3/1000 of a second. This ultra fast reaction time will provide for one of the smoothest rides imaginable.
The braking system on the Active Wheel is electronically controlled as well. The brakes are ventilated and much larger than conventional brakes which allow them to be fitted in a much more compact manner.
There are several reasons that this type of technology is so exciting including:
- Less Bulk: With no need for an engine, a transmission, and many other bulky parts the weight of the vehicle will be significantly less. This will also free up a good deal of space that engineers can look to use for other things such as safety innovations.
- Environment: Any time you have an all electric system or hybrid system it represents a better case scenario for the environment. Less or no fossil fuels begin burned equals a happier planet.
- More Efficient: Less weight also means more fuel efficiency. If the Active Wheel were to be fitted to a hybrid then the gasoline that is used would be significantly less. As a standalone it will get more miles per charge as the electronically controlled propulsion system has less weight to push around.
The Active wheel has already been fitted into two different prototypes by Michelin. One is called the WILL, which is more of a fleet car and is smaller and the other is called the Venturi Volage, which is much sportier and probably more fun to drive. Both of the prototypes have made appearances at several car shows and there are rumblings that one or both could be made available to the public in the next couple of years. If all goes as planned this will happen in Europe first and then see the two vehicles make their way across the pond to the US.
While hub technology is still catching on, Michelin is doing everything in its power to make sure that when it does they have the cream of the crop for the technology. Just think in a few years time the world may have a car in full production that looks like it just came out of a futuristic film. One thing is for sure; the future of how cars go is certainly going to be interesting.