We’re still largely in the autonowashing phase of the driverless car era, with the hype overwhelming the realities. I’d argue we’re in the opposite phase of the “electrification of everything.” There are numerous infrastructure, environmental, and technology hurdles we haven’t cleared, but the world has shifted and there’s no better bellwether than the Tier 1 suppliers jumping on board.
As Reuters reported, Israel’s commercial EV skateboard company REE has agreed to a deal with American Axle Detroit to create electric drive units for REE’s integrated wheel unit. REE has potential agreements in place with other companies (Mahindra is a partner) but they still seem to be in the “we’ve got an idea and now we have to actually make it” stage and what American Axle Detroit has agreed to deliver are prototypes by the end-of-the-year.
It is a good idea, though. A completely flat floor EV platform with most of the drive components pushed out to the wheels has been the dream since GM first rolled out the concept in 2002 (what a world it would have been if GM had actually gone through with it…). Being able to eliminate the traditional drivetrain components means being able to come up with packaging solutions unheard of with ICE-powered vehicles.
REE currently has three platform sizes, which covers the potential commercial uses from small, autonomous warehouse delivery vehicles all the way up to large, Class 6 commercial trucks like you’d see delivering Keystone Light to your local bodega.
The company doesn’t seem to be focusing on consumer sales, which is a bummer because we need more platforms for fun cars, though I’m not sure if the design is ideal for corner carving. Still, I could see these as being a great platform for an EV recreational vehicle. Bring on the EVRVs!