It is not every day that the wheel is reinvented, but SoftWheel has apparently done just that while managing to forge several important business agreements along the route. The Israel-based company recently finalized a major partnership with Japanese automotive manufacturer Musashi Seimitsu. Though the exact investment amount was not made public, PitchBook Data, which provides information on venture and private capital markets, pegged the value at roughly $25 million.
Founded in 2011, SoftWheel has developed a shock-absorbing system—incorporating into the wheel itself drivetrain, suspension, steering, brakes and e-motor components—that stands in stark contrast to traditional spoke-and-rim wheels. This allows for a more energy-efficient form of transportation that can be applied to electric, hybrid and autonomous vehicles.
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“Nobody does what we’re doing, not even close,” SoftWheel CEO Daniel Barel asserted to The Media Line. “We’re not doing suspension; we’re incorporating what the industry calls ‘critical components’ inside the wheel. By doing so we save a lot of weight and space, allowing for safer, more efficient vehicles.”
Musashi Seimitsu—which is partly owned by Honda Motor Co. and has 30 manufacturing plants across the globe—specializes in the development of powertrain products, which together form the mechanism by which a vehicle generates and transmits power.
“Musashi will allow us to bring our products to a whole new level, by [allowing us] to cooperate on R&D [research and development] and later on having Musashi produce some of the sub-systems of our products,” Barel explained.
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