An Israeli Start-Up Is Reinventing the Wheel
Hello and welcome to your daily Charge Smart blog! Today, we'll be talking about an Israeli start-up who have reinvented the wheel.
Above: The concept at work
Let's talk about current EVs, they have many batteries and maybe just one or two electric motors that drive either the front, rear or all wheels of the car. Much like traditional ICE cars, right? Hold that thought for a second, what if the EVs had four motors. One for each wheel! What would cars look like then?
Well, an Israeli start-up called REE presumably named after the sound that EVs make when they accelerate is working on exactly that. They have created a four wheeled van type vehicle with an electric motor attached to each wheel. REE are basically creating EVs on steroids because they are working on trying to package the steering, suspension, brakes and electric motors all into the wheels of the car. The company was keeping things quiet until recently when it unveiled technology it had developed alongside Hino motors, the truck making division of Toyota. The Hino FlatFormer as it’s called is made to maximize internal space and pack in the batteries in a fashion that allows for multiple different configurations.
REE’s co-founders were originally working on developing integrated motor in wheel systems for wheelchairs and mobility scooters when they realized that the same principle could also be applied to cars and public transport solutions. The appeal of such technology is its wide application. Dyson’s now defunct EV project was also based on a similar idea of using vacuum cleaner motors to drive wheels of the car.
REE is based in Tel Aviv, Israel and now employs more than 100 people along with owning 60 patents. It has recently raised around $580 million in a new round of investment. REE’s attractiveness to investors is through the multi-purpose applications of their drivetrain which could be used in small trucks, utes and even sportscars! Their platform can even be applied to automated delivery vehicles like postal vans. REE currently has partnerships with Mitsubishi, Musashi Seimitsu (owned by Honda), American Axle & Manufacturing and Linamar which is Canada’s second largest manufacturer of automotive parts. Big stuff for this new company!
Above: Two of REE's prototypes
The REE prototype is a small box like vehicle made up of four corners. The company calls the tires, “corner modules”. Each corner module has semi-active suspension with the ability to automatically adjust ride height, it has an inbuilt electric motor, a differential, high efficiency regenerative braking and a steering system. That’s a whole lot of tech packed into what is essentially a wheel. Each corner module also contains its own ECU and, in the event, that you get a puncture, the system has a ‘Hyper Quick Mount’ assembly for the wheel. You’d think these wheels would be massive right? But they aren’t. Though you could get large wheels if you want! There’s another thing, these systems have been made to deliver performance and adjustability as well. The prototype in their test video had MOMO wheels and Michelin Sport tires after all!
The result of these corner modules means that REE’s prototype can turn like a tank, changing direction without actually moving around like a three-point turn or a u-turn. This whole system means that the base of the car is just a flat plane whose only purpose is to join the four-corner modules together. Such a system means that the top half of the vehicle can be interchanged.
One of their full bodies prototypes is called the REE aiR (spelt wrong purposely) and its purpose it to have as much space as possible for storage. The aiR will have a 60kW motor and will be rear wheel drive along with having an estimated range of 250 kilometres. The REE shaRe on the other hand, is meant to be their people mover. It’s got a total of 100kWs of electric motors onboard driving the rear wheels. The shaRe will have an estimated range of 400 kilometres. Then there’s the REE boldeR which is an off-road commercial vehicle, it’s got 180kW of motors onboard which you can have either at the rear wheels or on all four wheels. The boldeR has an estimated range of 450 kilometres. Remember that all of these vehicles have the same basic structure while just interchanging the top half of the car to either carry more people or more luggage. That’s pretty intelligent!