Continental rethinks the wheel with electric vehicles in mind

EV gadgetry starts showing up

Continental revealed its New Wheel Concept, a newly-developed aggregate designed to enhance an electric vehicle’s range and performance.

The New Wheel — and we’re refusing to use the “wheel reinvented” cliché here, although it’s hard — uses lightweight materials, and a new brake setup, in order to maximize not only the braking efficiency but also the energy recovery aspect.

This concept uses two aluminum parts; the inner one, shaped as a star, holds the brake disk (which is also made from aluminum), and the outer ring on which the tire is mounted. Aluminium is not only lighter compared to cast iron but is also a good heat conductor, so braking heat gets dissipated quicker. Moreover, aluminum is more resistant when it comes to friction, so it’s reliability might bring running costs on par with a traditional cast-iron brake.

Then there’s the peculiar brake system that uses all of the wheel’s space, enhancing not only the braking performance but also the energy recuperation feature. That, in an electric vehicle, can mean a better range. As Matthias Matic, the Head of Continental’s Hydraulic Brake Systems Business Unit explains, “Using conventional brakes is not very effective in this case. The New Wheel Concept meets all the demands that electric driving places on the brake. We used our braking know-how to develop a solution that provides a consistently reliable braking effect in the electric vehicle.”

And there’s even more to that: the New Wheel Concept is more silent when braking, compared to conventional setups. “Because the brake disk is fixed on the outside and the brake engages from the inside, the brake caliper can be designed particularly light and stiff. The force is transmitted largely symmetrically into the center of the axle, and this has a favorable effect on the noise behavior of the brake,” says Paul Linhoff, Head of Brake Pre-Development in the Chassis & Safety Business Unit at Continental.

Continental’s New Wheel will be showcased at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show this September.