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Super-Sized Wheels on Electric Vehicles?


By Simon Cohen –

Hey, we get it—big wheels look freakin’ awesome. Whether they’re on the yellow plastic trike you bombed around on in your younger days; or mounted in the wheel wells of your present-day favourite ride, there’s just something about large-diameter wheels, isn’t there?

But make no mistake: As good as they may look, they are almost guaranteed to reduce your fuel mileage.

So it was with two aggressively raised eyebrows that we found ourselves rolling over the details of a patent application that’s making it’s way through the U.S. Patent Office.

The patent, simply called “Efficient Wheel,” calls for massive wheels – as large as twice the radius of current wheel sizes – to be used on electric vehicles on the grounds they will increase efficiency by allowing a greater distance of travel for the same amount of axial-to-wheel friction.

Now, if you can bring yourself to stop laughing at the patent’s absurd comic-book like images, there’s actually some potential to this idea. Larger wheels are theoretically more efficient, especially at highway speeds. But only if you can compensate for their increased weight, and increased rolling resistance due to their proportionately wider stance, and greater contact area with the road.

Because of these parameters, if two identical vehicles are equipped with differently sized wheels – one with factory specs, and one with oversized wheels – the one with the factory set will be more fuel-efficient. The patent appears to limit itself to a discussion of wheel radius, never touching on these other areas.

As tempting as it is to write off this patent as just another off-the-wall idea, it’s worth considering that its author, Zvi Or-Bach of San Jose, is no lightweight when it comes to science or engineering principles. Judging by the LinkedIn profile we found for him (we assume there’s only one inventor by that name in San Jose), he’s got an impressive CV, including degrees in electrical engineering and computer science, not to mention the 220 patents he already holds.

So, is this patent crazy, or is Or-Bach simply crazy like a fox? If you decide to try out his idea, don’t forget to send us pics.


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