By Denna Bowman
Michelin tyres claim to have “reinvented the wheel”, integrating tyre, braking system, motorisation and suspension all inside one ground-breaking unit.
The French tyres manufacturer unveiled its latest, most advanced version of the firm’s “Active Wheel” was unveiled at “Challenge Bibendum”, the company’s annual flagship event dedicated to environmently-friendly mobility, held in Rio de Janeiro.
The device was fitted to – and demonstrated on – Peugeot’s BB1 four-seater city car and to the WILL, a city car developed by French manufacturer Heuliez.
Michelin says that the Active Wheel incorporates electric motors to drive a vehicle, enabling manufacturers to produce either two-, or four wheel-drive cars.
The wheel also incorporates an electrical suspension system claimed to react to undulations in the road in just 3/1000ths of a second.
According to Michelin, which has not released a date when the invention willl be brought into production, vehicles powered by the Active Wheel will have no need for a gearbox, clutch, transmission shaft, differential or shock absorbers enabling a vast reduction in the weight and bulk of a car.
Peter Snelling, head of communication for Michelin, said: “The key to the Active Wheel’s technological revolution lies in reducing the size of the engine and controlling the suspension system.
“These elements, in addition to the braking system and the tyre, are now integrated within the wheel. The result offers an unprecedented series of advantages for motorists equipped with this system.”
He added: “Safety is also improved. The quality of the electric suspension in the wheel improves active safety. A digital board controls chassis stability and vehicle road handling.
“The absence of a motor under the bonnet means that the entire front of the vehicle can be dedicated to absorbing shocks, enhancing passive safety.”