There are plenty of cars I’d want to improve by adding another 140hp. The Miata is the prime example. Maybe take a hot hatch to the next level? What if I told you, by just adding one simple piece of technology to each of the non-driven wheels, you could achieve this?
What you’re looking at above is a self-driving wheel called the ‘Ring-Drive’ by a company named Orbis. It sits in the place of a wheel and adds 70bhp per corner. They’ve put it to the test on a Honda Civic Type R, and despite the car being plenty fast enough from the power it pushes through the front wheels, an extra 140hp and an AWD conversion looks to make it a real weapon.
Orbis doesn’t explain exactly where the power comes from, but ensures us that each unit is no heavier than the standard wheel it replaces. Marcus Hayes, CEO of Orbis also explains how it works via a small motor in each unit, which drives a bespoke 2-speed gearbox, multiplying the motor’s torque. While this sounds hunky-dory, there’s no explanation as to where the power for the motor comes from and how much any batteries will weigh. Although the fact this only adds unsprung weight is obviously a big advantage over other beefy power upgrades.
The fact that this system also adds another two driving wheels is also a massive plus – improving traction massively, especially to a FWD car like the Civic in which they say is a second faster to 60mph with the system over stock. Adding electric power will also aid economy, too, if you’re into that.
So far so good, but the Ring-Drive has another trick tucked up its sleeve: torque vectoring. Wheel spin out of slow corners will soon be a thing of the past with these motors automatically adjusting the torque they’re sending to the floor. And because of its rim-mounted brake disc, its braking system is lighter and more efficient than a standard system.
It’s advantages surely outweigh its disadvantages, but I’m left wondering about the power source, reliability, and of course, the way it looks. Flat panels which cover the system can be custom made for the customer, but other information regarding batteries (and pricing) is lacking. Are some things too good to be true?