When we hear about electric vehicle innovations, it’s usually in terms of battery power and driving range, but Continental has shifted some focus to the brakes

Continental is a major tire manufacturer and automotive supplier, and they’ve obviously been taking pains to remain as relevant for the electric generation. Their New Wheel Concept was first hinted at during a preview event last month, and it’s one that aims at improving braking in electric vehicles.

As you probably already know, the vast majority of electric vehicles use regenerative braking technology, harnessing the force created during braking to help power the system. Continental reports that their New Wheel Concept will optimize both the wheel and braking system for regenerative braking, all while making the braking system itself significantly easier to maintain.

All this comes together by pairing an aluminium rim with a separate aluminium centre star, with the brake caliper clamps positioned to the inside of the disc. With the brake disc on the inside instead of the outside, it can be much larger than with a conventional wheel, and, since most of the parts are made from aluminium, weight is reduced and an immunity to corrosion is achieved. Continental are even reporting that their New Wheel Concept brake discs do not wear at all, so maintenance is essentially restricted to buying new pads.

This all sounds pretty encouraging, but what exactly makes such breakthroughs more beneficial for electric vehicles than a regular gas or diesel? The answer lies in the regenerative braking system. It reduces how often drivers actually need to use their brakes. When the brakes are needed, it’s commonly at times when superior performance is required, such as during an emergency stop.

As summed up by Paul Linhoff, head of Brake Pre-Development at Continental:

“In EVs, it’s crucial that the driver expends as little energy as possible on the friction brake. During a deceleration, the momentum of the vehicle is converted into electricity in the generator to increase the vehicle’s range. That’s why the driver continues to operate the brake pedal – but it certainly doesn’t mean that the wheel brakes are active too. Drivers want to be able to rely on a consistent braking effect – and too much rust on the brake disk in particular can really make this difficult.”

The New Wheel Concept certainly sounds impressive, and we’ll be able to report further after its official debut next month at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

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