DeepDrive, the Munich-based startup with a decidedly different take on what drive units for electric vehicles can and should be, has today announced a strategic partnership with global all-things-mobility stalwart Continental that will see the duo develop a wheel hub drive with an integrated braking solution.
The partnership was initiated by co-pace, Continental’s venture capital arm, and co-lead in DeepDrive’s €15 million Series A round that was announced earlier this year.
As opposed to relying on the over-a-century-old layout of engine, transmission, and drivetrain all occupying separate spaces throughout what we all know as a modern vehicle, with electric vehicle propulsion, DeepDrive is throwing the playbook out the window.
Better, faster, stronger
As noted in Tech.eu’s inaugural coverage of DeepDrive, the company’s unique dual rotor, radial flux machine (not capacitor — yet) offers, according to the company, the automotive industry’s highest torque and power density combined with the lowest noise emissions and torque ripple.
Sounds like nothing more than a better, faster, stronger, motor right? Well yes, but the DeepDrive difference comes into play when you consider that this better, stronger, faster isn’t located under a bonnet or in a frunk, but rather, mounted either centrally, or, directly at the wheel hub.
If this is bordering on Greek at this point, allow me to translate — if DeepDrive’s claims live up to real-world performance, this means what they’re working on is bloody fast, quiet, and incredibly efficient. And that’s as a central powertrain.
Now add three more, one per wheel, and you’ve got something here that could dust a Ferrari Enzo, be as quiet as a mouse, and use less power to accomplish both than a Prius at comparative levels.
And now in conjunction with Continental, DeepDrive is developing a way to bring all that power and efficiency to a halt.
“The strategic partnership with Continental makes it possible to combine our drive system with the brake technology needed to create an innovative electric component essential to the mobility of tomorrow. The soaring demand for such technology demonstrates that this is the right way to go.” - Felix Poernbacher, DeepDrive co-founder and managing director
The first phase of the partnership will see a hydraulic braking system integrated into the drive-brake unit. If successful, the second phase of the venture aims to integrate the solution into dry braking systems without hydraulic components.
Again, from the Greek — what this means is that the combination of a drive module and braking system into one unit is poised to be a major leap forward in the evolution of the automobile as we today know it.
The integration of both elements in a single unit enables a tremendously high level of efficiency in terms of both motion and the ceasing thereof. What’s more, by integrating the components, the complexity, and presumably cost, of the manufacturing process can be refined and reduced.
This progression falls neatly in line with products Continental already has in its wheelhouse including air suspension systems and electronic control modules.
Over a century and a half of experience
If all of this sounds high-flying, you’re right, it is. But when you consider not only the financial backing of Bayern Kapital, UVC Partners, BMW iVentures, and Continental, in combination with the latter’s 152-year history of industrialisation and experience in large-scale automobile production, that high-flying doesn’t seem so high after all.
On the collaboration, Continental’s Head of Safety and Motion (SAM) Matthias Matic commented:
“The electric motors developed by DeepDrive extend the range of electric vehicles. They are lighter, more economical, and more resource-efficient. Combining all that with our efficient, high-performance brake technology to produce a new, compact unit is a decisive contribution to the success of electric mobility. What belongs together grows together here.”
Lead image: Continental DeepDrive Drive-Brake Unit (Copyright Continental).