A turning point in electric car design

When we think of automobiles we think of things like engines, powertrains, exhaust systems and a myriad of miscellaneous items that go into making up an automobile.

But what if that was to change?

What if we didn’t need all those different parts to make up those vehicle we drive?

Well we may just find out sooner than anyone might think especially if a partnership between Michelin, coachbuilder Heuliez and Freench telecommunication giant Orange can bring to market a radical new drive platform called Active Wheel Drive.

The graphic above is one of their test model called Heuliez Will; which is built on top of the Opel Agila frame and including the Active Wheel design. Part of the whole process stress the designers and builders was to be able to convey a comfortable familiarity but once you realize that there is empty storage space in both front and back you know something different is up.

Michelin Active WheelWith the Active Wheel design Michelin has dramatically shifted what our concept of what makes up a car. No longer do we need an engine as we are use to, no longer is there a powertrain we are use to. In short everything but the shell and interior changes. Not to mention all that new cargo space that was taken up by the motor.

The first Active Wheel vehicles are on the street now and with a target price of $27 to $34 thousand this puts them in the same prices range as the upcoming Chevy Volt. Heuliez plans on making the first production models available by 2010 for professional drivers, municipalities and fleets with availability for you and me by 2011.

[hat tip to Treehugger]