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Michelin Active Wheel: All-In-One Standard for Engine, Brake & Suspension

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If you’re an avid reader of the Green Optimistic, you know that we’ve written an article about Venturi Volage almost a month ago. We said that it has 296 hp and an acceleration from 0-60 mph of under 5 seconds. Now, we’ll present the car’s core, the marvelous Active Wheel, that keeps place for the car’s engine, suspension and brake.

Siemens had plans to develop such all-in-one electric wheels, and I really don’t know if this isn’t their engineering hand after all. The active wheel has been postponed for years due to technical limitations, but now they’re history and the electric traction motor has a power of 30kW (40 hp).

The active wheel also has an electric suspension system, which is something only seen in the military about two years ago. The electric suspension is basically the same with a classic one, except the central shock absorbers, that comprise active, step-by-step motors driving a rack-and-pinion system at each wheel, that can cancel out anything the computer tells them to. This leads to better stability, lower vibrations and possibly reduced energy use. You don’t have to worry about the suspension system being sluggish, its responds to any stimulus in about 3 milliseconds, which is good.

So, the new electric active wheel vehicle that Michelin’s engine is installed in will be called “WILL”. WILL grew out of a concept developed by Heuliez and Michelin and features networked services innovated by Orange (a nice integration of telecom into automotive industry). Michelin has had earlier versions of Active Wheel in concepts such as the Michelin/PSI Concept HY-LIGHT Fuel Cell Vehicle, shown in 2004 at the Challenge Bibendum in Shanghai.

will-electric-car-active-wheelWILL is a front-wheel electric vehicle, has room for five in it and, because it has no big engine to carry, it has two trunks: one in the front and one in the rear. Its main power is a Li-Ion battery. Michelin wants WILL on the streets starting with 2010, and by then it will have had diversified the fueling systems with a fuel cell version. The interchangeable fuel cell/batteries will be able to carry the users 150, 300 or 400km (it all depends on the money they have to spend).

I guess there will be a sport version of WILL (there’s no fun with electric motors if you don’t sport them). Maybe there will be only the Venturi Volage, I don’t know. Anyway, it’s a big step forward for the European car industry.

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