Electric wheel Hub-Drive Wins Environmental Prize

By: Michael Cahill

Ground breaking European gearless electric drive technology might soon appear in Australia after its proof of concept takes a major prize in Germany.

Electric wheel Hub-Drive Wins Environmental Prize
Electric wheel Hub-Drive Wins Environmental Prize

Ziehl-Abegg, a family-owned German manufacturer known for its electric motors, has been awarded an environmental prize for developing a new electric bus technology entitled Zawheel.

Zawheel is an electric wheel-hub drive, essentially meaning that the motor is confined within the ultra-wide wheels, removing the need for efficiency-sapping transmissions and differentials.

By having the drive directly in the wheel, torque is generated and used at the same location, a feat which Ziehl-Abegg claims results in not simply an environmental advantage, but an improvement in driver comfort.

Regenerative braking is also included for further efficiency gains.

Ziehl-Abegg claims that compared to a diesel bus on a typical city cycle, the Zawheel offers 50 percent lower energy consumption and emissions, as well as a 90 percent reduction of noise.

Installation space and fitting dimensions are said to be compatible with common standard portal axles for low-floor buses, meaning that retrofitting is possible without requiring extensive modifications to the bus undercarriage.

Peter Fenkl, CEO of Ziehl-Abegg, says that "The fact that the sixth-largest European bus manufacturer, VDL Bus & Coach, has been equipping new vehicles with our drive since May highlights its practical scope."

Over 100 entries were submitted for the emission reduction category of Baden-Württemberg's Environmental Technology prize, and the Zawheel took third place.

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