(Image: Ree Auto)
Most dedicated electric vehicle platforms use a so-called skateboard design with the battery packaged flat into the underbody.
But these systems really are flat only in the middle, because the front and rear of the chassis still have to accommodate conventional mechanical drivetrain components.
Integrated Wheel Module
Ree Automotive says it has a better idea. The Tel Aviv-based startup teams a completely flat platform with integrated corner modules that house “by-wire” braking and steering systems along with the suspension, electric motor, sensors and electronic controllers into each wheel well.
Corner module (Image: Ree)
Ree claims the design is one-third lighter and has a two-thirds smaller footprint than current EV skateboard platforms, while allowing the passenger cabin to have the same interior volume.
Other benefits include a lower center of gravity, easier ingress/egress, greater design flexibility and improved performance, according to the developer.
Ree says the scalable platform can be used for a range of EVs, including small delivery vans and large commercial vehicles. The company demonstrated a prototype system in partnership with Toyota’s Hino heavy-duty truck affiliate at the Tokyo auto show last October.
Ree also envisions the platform being used for future autonomous vehicles and robo-shuttles.
In addition to Hino, Ree has development deals with Mitsubishi and Fiat Chrysler. The startup also is working with several suppliers, including American Axle, Linamar, Musashi, NXP and Tenneco.
This month Ree added KYB Corp. to the list. The Japanese supplier will provide its active and semi-active suspension technology to Ree’s corner module.
Ree, which began developing the architecture in 2013, aims to launch commercial applications as soon as next year. The company plans to use contract manufacturers for low-volume production runs.
It also is looking for new investors. To date, Ree has raised about $100 million.
The company has a lot of competition in the EV platform business. But it’s unique take could gain some traction.
Although the term “continuous improvement” is generally associated with another company, Honda is certainly pursuing that approach, as is evidenced by the Accord, which is now in its ninth generation.
Honda is an engine company.
The 2016 model is all-new. As in platform and everything else. And the platform—which will have global use—was developed in North America.