Israeli startup reinvents the wheel, by using it to contain car’s key components

Israeli startup REE has unveiled a “revolutionary” new design and look for electric vehicles, in which all of the classic components of the car — the motor, the steering system, the brakes and the suspension — are moved from under the hood into the wheels.

This helps create a vehicle framework, the chassis, that is completely flat, like a skateboard, and thus more versatile. This shape also helps reduce weight, an essential component for the success of electric vehicles.

REE’s approach, which will be officially presented on Wednesday at the TechCrunch Mobility event in San Jose, California, strategically places the motor, steering, suspension, drivetrain, sensors, brakes, thermal systems and electronics into the wheels. This allows manufacturers to use the same platform, or car framework, for different types of vehicle bodies.

This will eliminate the need for multiple platforms for different vehicles, resulting in “substantial savings,”as the design and validation of each platform traditionally costs manufacturers $20 billion, the firm said.

The “modular chassis” frees up space by 67 percent and reduces vehicle weight by 33%, data provided by the company shows.

The same platform can be used for any type of vehicle: a high-performance car able to do 0-60 mph in less than 3 seconds, an off-road SUV with advanced active suspension technology, a robotaxi or even a 10-ton truck, the company said in a statement.

The reduced size and weight also increase the energy and operational efficiency of these cars.

“This level of efficiency significantly helps the electrification process, reduces the strain on batteries and ensures the power in the vehicle last longer,” the company said.

REE said it is already collaborating with global original equipment manufacturers, as well as Tier-1 and Tier-2 automotive companies including Mitsubishi Corporation, Mushashi, Linamar, Tenneco and NXP.

“The concepts of the past are limited and restrict the ability of the automotive industry to realize the electric and autonomous reality they are striving for,” said Daniel Barel, co-founder and CEO of REE, in a statement. “Until now, the industry has operated by making incremental improvements on the traditional design of the automotive vehicle. At REE, we believe that in order to hasten the automotive revolution we need to reinvent the wheel – quite literally.”

The Tel Aviv-based firm was set up by Daniel Barel and Avishay Sardes, who are also the founders of SoftWheel, a startup that developed flexible, shock-absorbing wheels for wheelchairs for a smoother ride and more stability without sacrificing speed.

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