Continental: reinventing the wheel

Automotive manufacturer Continental recently announced an innovative new integrated wheel and brake system designed specifically for electric vehicles.

Braking inside out

The new design consists of two main parts; a “carrier star” and a “rim well”.

The rim and carrier star bolt together to form the wheel and the carrier star attaches to the brake rotor and the wheel hub, with the brake calliper inside the rotor.

This arrangement results in a useable braking surface area which is considerably larger than the conventional arrangement whereby a brake calliper grips the outside of a circular brake disc. Continental’s arrangement allows for use of smaller and lighter brake callipers.


The design may be more complex to manufacture but is significantly lighter than a traditional wheel and brake arrangement. It is also considerably quieter and has a greatly improved life span.

As explained in one of our previous articles, electric vehicles use regenerative braking. Engaging the engine when braking reduces the braking force required by brakes to achieve the same braking performance as a non-regenerative system. This is because much of the kinetic energy of a spinning wheel is transferred into turning the electric engine. The brakes, therefore, do not have to work so hard to achieve the same results. Wear and tear is dramatically reduced.

In fact, Continental say that their new wheel and brake design, coupled with regenerative braking, means that a brake disc will now last the lifetime of the vehicle. The car owner will only have to occasionally replace the brake pads.

“In [electric vehicles], it’s crucial that the driver expends as little energy as possible on the friction brake.

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 Linhoff, Continental Head of Brake Pre-development

Because less braking demand is placed on this design, the disc can be made from aluminium. Aside from being light, aluminium does not rust thus further improving lifespan when compared to traditional cast-iron discs.

If you would like further detail on any of the above, or would like to discuss developments in the automotive world, then please do not hesitate to contact one of our experienced attorneys in the Engineering, Physics and Mechanical Devices sector.

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