Michelin Active Wheel Debuts in Heuliez Will at Geneva Motor Show
Ever thought having separate components for the engine, transmission, suspension, and wheel was a waste of weight and space in a car? Well, the engineers at Michelin R&D did too, so they developed the Active Wheel.
The Michelin Active Wheel integrates an electric motor, the brakes, and the suspension components within the wheel itself. Housing the electric motor inside the wheel creates a direct link to powering the vehicle and eliminates the need for a transmission. This eliminates weight and reduces running costs on cars with this wheel, as transmissions can wear out and have to be replaced. The electric motors can be powered by either batteries or a fuel cell.
Using an active suspension within the wheel also eliminates suspension components that also add weight and cost to a normal car. The active suspension can be tuned much like the magnetorheological shock absorbers today, seen on cars like the Chevrolet Corvette and Ferrari 599. The suspension could be tuned to provide a plush ride for highway jaunts or a firm sports car ride for spirited driving.
Housing all the suspension and motor components in the car eliminates the need for an engine compartment, allowing for more luggage or battery space. The new wheel also allows for a totally flat floor, maximizing interior space. This creates the possibility of a truly practical sports car powered by Michelin’s Active Wheels. It also allows for the possibility for selectable two- or four-wheel drive on cars equipped with four Active Wheels.
After twelve years of development, Michelin and French contract manufacturer, Heuliez, showed a concept called the Will at the Geneva Motor Show. The Will is powered by two Active Wheels at the front and has a range of around 90 miles. The car is now undergoing testing in France. French sports car maker Venturi is developing a coupe concept that will have four Active Wheels called the Voltage.