Michelin Develops Revolutionary Active Wheel for Electric Cars

Is this tire really the "Holy Grail of Eco-Transportation," as Treehugger believes? Maybe. Time will tell if the electric engine inside the Active Wheel from Michelin will catch on and further drive down the cost of electric vehicles. For now, let's delve deep into this tire-motor combo, and you can decide for yourself if it has what it takes to kill the gas-guzzling combustion engine for good.

The wheels, while still in development over at Michelin, already have a vehicle ready to receive them. Called the Heuliez Will, this tiny tot from Opel doesn't look like much, but it has it where it counts, and might produce an offspring that, in in a galaxy far, far away, makes the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs. Or requires no gasoline to run. Probably the latter.

Even more impressive is the notion that in-wheel motors would free up space in the front or rear of the vehicle. This model also eliminates the need for other notorious space hogs like transmissions and exhaust systems. More room means more freedom for tomorrow's automobile designers, and cooler cars for we consumers. (*fingers crossed* anyway).

The target price for the Opel right now is about $US24,000-37,000, which puts it in line with the upcoming so-called savior of Detroit, the Chevy Volt. Testing on the Opel has already begun, with an official consumer roll out expected by 2011. Active Wheels are also expected to come standard on the Venturi Volage sometime in 2012. [Michelin via Treehugger]

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