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Michelin, the tire company, has introduced a concept that places an electric motor in each wheel of a vehicle. Each motor is responsible for turning the wheel in which it is located. This allows car designers to use what would typically be a centralized motor compartment for pretty much anything they want. Designers could place batteries in the engine compartment instead of having to find odd battery locations when using the traditional central motor car design. This also allows car designers to not use the engine compartment at all if desired.
Michelin’s 4 electric motor design is reported to be roughly 90% efficient which is a 70% increase over typical gasoline engines. Plus like your typical electrical vehicle each tire’s motor collects unused energy when the vehicle is braking, etc… to recharge the batteries. This design is going to be available in a vehicle from Opel sometime around 2011. Opel’s vehicle is estimated to sell in the $25,000 to $37,000 range.
Could this out of the box design be just what the electric car needs to become mainstream? Who knows but I am truly happy to see a company think outside of the box when designing what many say will be the vehicles of the future.
See Treehuger article for more information.