Hyundai and Kia’s New Uni Wheel Drive System Could be a Game Changer for EVs!

Hyundai and Kia have developed a system for electric vehicles (EV)- Universal Wheel Drive. It has the potential to drastically transform not only how EVs are made but also what they look like and how they function.

The Korean automakers’ Uni-Wheel is described as “a revolutionary vehicle powertrain design.” And to put it in layman’s terms, it could help Hyundai achieve their long-term goal of selling 1.87 million EVs before the turn of the decade.

Hyundai has Relocated the Main Drive System Components!

To maximize efficiency, the automaker has relocated the main drive system components to the wheel hub space. Doing so eliminates the need for a driveshaft. The result is a more direct connection from motor to wheel.

The Uni uses a compact electric motor design that still manages to output significant torque. According to Hyundai and Kia, this configuration “ensures” its latest EVs have similar power outputs as their larger motor-equipped older siblings.

This will mean smoother and more efficient acceleration in all-new electric vehicles and autonomous models. And, it will also help to focus on maximizing interior space in purpose-built vehicles. The idea behind PBVs is to create a low, flat-floored design that allows for maximum interior room so that these kinds of vehicles can be used for just about anything.

Kia– Hyundai’s subsidiary– has also made PBVs an important part of its business strategy and said it plans to release at least two electric vehicles every year after 2023 as well as commercialize many different PBV models. It aims to become one of the world’s top global producers of these types of vehicles.

The Uni Wheel also Supports Electronic Torque Vectoring

The Uni Wheel also supports electronic torque vectoring, which involves independently controlling the left and right wheels to improve steering and drive stability.

In internal combustion engine vehicles, power is transmitted through a variety of components – including a transmission and driveshafts/CV shafts – before it reaches the wheels.

This setup requires more parts than electric vehicles’ drivetrains do, increasing costs for automakers; it also results in a loss of efficiency when distributing power to the wheels (more on this shortly). In EVs specifically, such a loss in efficiency could result in decreased range.

In addition to conventional vehicles, the Uni Wheel allows for some pretty unconventional seating layouts without having to find space for a big electric motor or drive shafts. This could be particularly useful in fully autonomous vehicles like robo-taxis where there’s no need to have driver controls facing forward.

It gives designers far more room — both literally and figuratively — to plot out interior layouts they might not normally have been able to consider if space was limited due to traditional drivetrains.

Hyundai and Kia have Registered Around 8 Patents for the Uni Wheel in South Korea

Hyundai and Kia have applied for  and registered around eight patents related to Uni Wheel, according to the patent applications reviewed by Electrek. The patents are filed in South Korea, as well as in the U.S. and Europe.

The companies are evaluating how to scale the technology for other electric mobility applications. The Uni Wheel is adaptable to different types of EVs. It uses the same powertrain and reduction gear functions found on conventional EVs. But it’s more than just a car part- it could be used with wheelchairs, bicycles or delivery robots.

In all of these cases, Hyundai says that its system can work with single-wheel designs much like what you’d find on many electric scooters–or more traditional four-wheeled setups like your regular sedan.

The Bottom Line

Let’s see how the Uni Wheel Drive System changes the future of EVs. Hyundai says it is adaptable to a wide range of vehicle sizes and types, from small city cars to “high-performance” machines–meaning we could potentially see this tech in everything from EV hatchbacks to out-and-out sports cars.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen an in-wheel drive system on an electric car. Defunct EV startup Lordstown Motors planned to use a similar setup for its electric Endurance pickup, but that deal fell through when Lordstown went belly-up earlier this year.

Only time will tell if Hyundai and Kia can make this version work where others have not been able!
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