Chuck, that's a really good point about EVs. One of the reasons carbon composites are becoming popular in aircraft is their non-conductivity, which is useful for planes flying through electrical storms, for example. That does seem like an obvious benefit for EVs. Regarding what happens to the motors when they are impacted, good question. The company's description: http://www.sim-drive.com/english/technology/index.html#Shimizu_In_wheel_Motor-Drive sounds like the frame may have been made extra-rugged to accommodate this.
Rob, I think you're right. Several automakers are introducing newer technologies, such as plastics and recycled materials, into their EV lines first. That appears to be partly to test out these technologies on lower-volume product runs to get the kinks out before committing to mass manufacturing, but also to help with the weight problem caused by batteries.
I don't remember where I read it -- might have been Design News, or Aviation Week, but some years ago someone built a motor in nosewheel system to let airliners push back from the gate without needing a tug. As I recall, part of the puzzle there was to get enough torque and low enough RPM with reasonable drive electronics, and the answer to that involved having an unusually large number of poles.
It seems like it would be great in town or for low speed commuting, but highway speeds would require overcoming some large gyroscopic effects. I'd like to see some specs on the steering control system.
I think that was the main problem in the original design of 100 years ago wasn't it?
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