Have you ever thought that putting motors inside the wheels of a vehicle may a more elegant way of providing propulsion? It would certainly eliminate a number of energy-robbing parts; transmission, driveshafts, differentials and make the drivetrain more modular and provide additional space for other energy storage/creation devices. Like so many things, in-wheel motors have already been done, but technology and our ability to integrate them into wheels has changed a lot since the first in-wheel motor (also called a hub motor) was patented back in 1884 and, after disappearing for decades, they are starting to creep back into vehicles.
And why not? Not only do they reduce frictive energy loss and free up space, the tech can be integrated into many different platforms including electric vehicles (EVs), hybrids and fuel cell vehicles (FCV) and they can be installed in something as light as a bicycle or as heavy as a bus. Chances are you’ll see an in-wheel motor in action sometime in the near future. Get ready by reading more after the jump.
*Updated with great video of Michelin Active wheel in action.