Hyundai and Kia’s Uni Wheel Drives a Revolution in EV Design

Hyundai and Kia's Uni Wheel Drives
Hyundai and Kia’s Uni Wheel Drive

Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Corporation unveiled the groundbreaking ‘Universal Wheel Drive System,’ known as ‘Uni Wheel,’ at the ‘Uni Wheel Tech Day’ in Seoul, Korea. This innovative vehicle drive system is poised to revolutionize the design of future mobility devices.

Uni Wheel is a functionally integrated wheel drive system that enhances space utilization inside an electric vehicle (EV) by cleverly relocating the main drive system components within the wheel hub. This has led to the creation of an entirely new structure for the drive system.

Hyundai and Kia’s Uni Wheel Drives

In traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, power transmission involves complex mechanisms such as drive shafts and constant velocity (CV) joints. Uni Wheel, designed for EVs, introduces new possibilities by moving the EV’s reduction gear inside the wheel hub, placing a compact individual motor near each wheel, and thereby reducing the length of drive shafts.

The system not only optimizes interior space, offering a flat-floor configuration, but also opens avenues for various applications, including Purpose Built Vehicles (PBVs).

“We are thrilled to showcase innovative ideas that could reshape the future of mobility,” said Jongsool Park, Senior Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Technology Development of Hyundai Motor Group. “Our goal is to perfect this technology to provide customers with a completely new and transformative mobility experience.”

Advancements in electrification, autonomous driving, and connectivity technologies have shifted the focus towards maximizing space utilization in future vehicle architectures, enhancing customer value and user experiences.

Uni Wheel employs a unique planetary gear configuration, transmitting power from the motor to the wheel through a series of gears. Its multi-link mechanism allows for a wide range of suspension articulation, ensuring efficient power transmission and ride comfort regardless of wheel movement.

Hyundai and Kia’s Uni Wheel Drives

Unlike conventional drive systems, Uni Wheel maintains high efficiency and durability even over bumpy surfaces, providing consistent performance. Combined with electronic air suspension, the system allows for ride height adjustments based on driving conditions, enhancing stability.

Uni Wheel’s innovative design contributes to more efficient use of interior space, offering additional cargo room without compromising performance. This breakthrough also has the potential to redefine seating arrangements in the era of fully autonomous driving.

The concept significantly minimizes the impact on passenger space caused by traditional EV battery placements, thus increasing passenger comfort. This feature is especially beneficial for PBVs that require a low, flat-floor design to maximize interior space.

Uni Wheel is versatile, adaptable to various EV types, including regular passenger and high-performance EVs. Its flexibility extends beyond vehicles, as it can be applied to wheelchairs, bicycles, and delivery robots. With the ability to accommodate wheel sizes ranging from 4 inches to 25 inches or more, Uni Wheel offers a dynamic solution for different mobility needs.

Hyundai Motor and Kia are actively testing Uni Wheel to ensure stability, efficiency, and durability. Ongoing efforts include adjusting the reduction gear ratio and upgrading lubrication and cooling systems to enhance efficiency.

The companies have already applied for and registered eight patents related to Uni Wheel in South Korea, the United States, and Europe, emphasizing their commitment to advancing innovative mobility solutions.

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