Most non-internal-combustion car designs, whether electric, hybrid or hydrogen, still feature a mechanical layout based on old thinking: You’ve got a separate motor that sends power through a transmission to drive the wheels. Israeli startup REE took a different approach, attaching an electric motor directly to each wheel. With this model, everything—suspension, steering, brakes, power—is contained in the wheels, obviating the need for a transmission and engine space, and greatly simplifying servicing; you can pop the relevant wheel off and attend to the relevant components.
Hyundai subsidiary Mobis has developed a similar technology that they call the E-Corner Module.
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“The biggest advantage of the E-Corner Module is that it does not require any mechanical connection between parts, which thereby allows a better use of space within vehicle,” they write. “Not only does it make it easier to change the wheel base, but it also ensures much more flexibility in designing the direction of doors and the size of the vehicle.”
“Of particular note is that it has evolved from traditional 30-degree rotation. Now, it allows 90-degree rotation of the wheel when needed, for example parking, and enables crab (sideways) driving and zero-turn, which means rotation without moving forward or backward.”
Here’s the E-Corner Module demonstrated in their M.Vision 2GO concept, envisioned as an urban delivery vehicle:
I can’t wait for the day when all cars/trucks/vans are zero-turn. Three-point-turns, circular driveways and cul-de-sacs could all go away. But I guess it would also knock those automotive turntable manufacturers out of business.