In a paradigm-shifting unveiling earlier today, Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Corporation presented their innovative “Universal Wheel Drive System” (Uni Wheel) at an event in Seoul. This revolutionary new drive system for electric vehicles flips existing engineering on its head.
Instead of running drive components under the vehicle, Uni Wheel ingeniously integrates them inside the wheel hub. This liberates a tremendous amount of interior space for passengers and cargo compared to traditional EV layouts.
Like magicians, Hyundai and Kia have made the entire drivetrain setup disappear from view, opening up flexible new possibilities for vehicle design. Streaming video of the technology shows a completely flat vehicle floor, optimized for roomy purpose-built mobility.
Key aspects that set Uni Wheel apart:
- In-wheel micro-motors and reduction gears improve efficiency over uneven terrain
- Independent torque vectoring boosts performance and handling dynamics
- Scalable for vehicles of all sizes, from passenger cars to wheelchairs
- Eight patents already filed to protect the intellectual property
By shifting the engineering paradigm, Hyundai and Kia have unveiled an EV platform for the next generation. Uni Wheel’s expanded interior space, smoother ride, and cutting-edge control capabilities provide an exciting glimpse into the electric future. The automakers plan additional testing to polish this breakthrough and roll it out in future production vehicles.
Lordstown Motors actually had a similar in-wheel motor concept but struggled to make it viable. This highlights the significant technical hurdles with packing motors into the confined space of each wheel hub. Heat, unsprung weight, suspension integration, and durability represent complex engineering challenges.
However, Hyundai and Kia have proven their seasoned engineering expertise with smooth launches of multiple electric models already on the road.