Israeli Startup Eyes Electric Vehicles for Wheel Technology

A startup that makes a suspension system is trying to reinvent the wheel -- or, at least, make it more efficient, durable and lighter for use in electric vehicles.

Softwheel Ltd.’s technology reduces wasted energy, absorbing shocks faster for a smoother ride. While currently focused on bicycles and wheelchairs, it could be used for cranes, airplane landing gear, mass transit and eventually cars and trucks, Chief Executive Officer Daniel Barel said in an interview at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance conference in New York Wednesday.

The technology is “superior, smaller and lighter” than current tire and suspension systems and “dramatically reduces costs” associated with maintenance and equipment downtime when it’s broken, Barel said. The Tel Aviv-based, closely held company is looking into working with vehicle manufacturers, likely first with smaller ones that make electric cars, he said, without disclosing any potential partners.

Improving efficiency of electric cars and making them lighter would help increase their battery range, a major issue for consumers looking to drive long distances in the zero-emissions vehicles. Tesla Motors Inc.’s newest model, the 70D, has a range of 240 miles (386 kilometers).

Softwheel was formed in 2011 with support from the Israeli Economic Ministry’s Office of the Chief Scientist and the RAD Group, according to its website.