The Honda Civic Type R is an awesome car and it doesn’t exactly lack pace, but here’s an idea: what if you could instantly add 140bhp and send that to the rear wheels?
That’s the idea behind a clever new ‘Ring-Drive’ electrically self-driven wheel from a company called Orbis. The prototype has been mounted to a Civic Type R, and while neither the video nor the company’s website explain exactly where the power comes from, the gist is an instantly-accessible boost worth 70bhp per wheel.
Orbis says the wheels are no heavier than a standard items, using a small motor to directly drive the rim of the wheel in tandem with a bespoke two-speed gearbox, magnifying the effective torque delivery. Clever stuff, theoretically with no unsprung weight penalty, although batteries are still the great unknown. Presumably a 48-volt electrical system with mild hybrid-style batteries would be useful for this kind of thing.
Traction is massively improved, says Orbis, with the 0-60mph sprint laid down a whole second faster than in the standard Type R. Leaning on the rear wheels in everyday driving takes load off the engine and improves fuel economy, too. They also automatically torque-vector, too, to eliminate wheelspin and fire you out of low-speed corners like you’ve been shot out of a cannon.
Another benefit is a rim-mounted brake disc, giving ‘at least 50 per cent more swept area’, with a 20-30 per cent reduction in heat. That means reduced brake fade and a larger disc diameter for more power with a smaller, lighter caliper.
The one downside we can see (apart from the power source question) is that the prototype Ring-Drive system is a bit ugly. Orbis says it can cover it with a flat panel that customers can design any way they like, but we’re reserving judgement on that one.
Hat tip to RedTegB20