Continental New Wheel Concept: Reduced Unsprung Mass and Durable Brakes for EVs

Unsprung mass is a critical factor that determines an automobile’s performance and handling. Simply put, the lighter the unsprung mass [all unsprung weight that is between the road and the suspension; wheels and braking systems primarily], the better performing and more efficient the vehicle.

Continental’s New Wheel Concept has that very ideology of lighter wheels at the core of its latest offering.

With the world en route to an EV transformation, the New Wheel Concept has been designed especially with electric vehicles in mind.

“In EVs, it’s crucial that the driver expends as little energy as possible on the friction brake,” says Paul Linhoff, Head of Brake Pre-Development in the Chassis & Safety Business Unit at Continental.

Dig this; “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.” Paul adds.

The corrosion-free brake discs are made of Aluminum and therefore provide for a rust-free, constant friction surface condition. An important prerequisite for electric vehicles, where friction brakes are not constantly in use.

With its innovative design it offers a larger friction radius resulting in smaller and lighter calipers, contributing to reduced unsprung mass, lower emissions and a reduction in fine particles pollution.

Re-inventing the wheel? The new wheel concept uses an all aluminum brake disc and smaller calipers to save weight while the design makes servicing the brakes and wheels a breeze.

The deceleration torque of the electric motor is not sufficient by itself when the driver brakes more energetically, or braking also has to be carried out with the non-driven axle for driving dynamics reasons. The wheel brake is needed in this situation – and it must be in ship shape and available on-demand.

“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,” Linhoff emphasizes. The reason behind the reduced performance is less friction between the brake pad and the brake disk. The automatic emergency braking function also has to fully rely on the availability of the friction brake effect.

With the New Wheel Concept, abrasion only takes place on the pads, and the design of the Concept makes replacing them – and the wheels – much easier.

The New Wheel Concept has yet another positive: “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 Linhoff – and that’s a side effect which is particularly sweet in a quiet EV.

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