Although Continental is probably best know as a tyre-maker, the German company is also a supplier of all kinds of automotive tech from instrument clusters to safety systems including brake hardware.
It’s brakes that Continental is looking to revolutionise with its latest development, called the New Wheel Concept, which reimagines the traditional wheel and brake system seen on most modern cars in a way that makes the system better suited to use on electric vehicles.
The need to redesign the traditional disc brake comes from the way EVs wash off speed, with energy recuperation harvesting the energy that would otherwise be lost as heat in normal circumstances to help top-up the batteries.
As a result it’s possible to drive an EV without relying on friction braking like you would in a normal car, with the exception of emergency situations where the friction braking system takes over.
The positive side is that a set of brake pads lasts much longer than it otherwise might, however, the negative effect (and the thing that Continental’s system aims to overcome) is that brake rotors which remain unused are more susceptible to corrosion when not being cleaned by the friction of regular use, which in turn reduces its effectiveness when called upon.
To combat that issue Continental’s New Wheel Concept (NWC) sees the traditional cast-iron brake disc substituted for an aluminum one, which is more resistant to corrosion, not only that, but the design changes dramatically, with an aluminium carrier attached permanently to the wheel hub, and the outer rim made as a detachable section.
The reason for the change allows a much larger diameter brake disc, with the caliper relocated to run inside the brake ring, allowing additional cooling to overcome the softer aluminium discs' susceptibility to heat loads.
Due to the long leverage effect of the larger disc the NWC system translates relatively low clamping forces into more effective braking efficiency, and Continental claims a set of aluminium discs will last the life of the vehicle, with only the pads wearing through use.
The solution isn’t suited to all vehicle classes, with Continental envisaging medium and compact class cars as being ideal candidates, with the high performance demands of large, luxury, and sporty EVs proving too much for the NMC system.
“Electromobility needs new solutions for braking technology too,” according to the head of Continental’s Hydraulic Brake Systems Business Unit, Matthias Matic. “Using conventional brakes is not very effective in this case.”
“The New Wheel Concept meets all the demands that electric driving places on the brake. We used our braking know-how to develop a solution that provides a consistently reliable braking effect in the electric vehicle.”
Continental is yet to announce when the NWC could be put into production, nor if any automotive manufacturers are interested in adopting the technology.