Hyundai Motor Group introduced an innovative solution on Tuesday, revealing the “Uni Wheel,” an advanced concept known as the Universal Wheel Drive System. This groundbreaking technology integrates key components of a vehicle’s drive system into the wheel itself, setting a new precedent in automotive design and functionality.
By consolidating constant velocity joints, drive shafts, and the decelerator into the wheel, the Uni Wheel system optimizes the vehicle’s structure, specifically designed for electric car platforms like E-GMP. This pioneering approach allows for greater flexibility in car design, overcoming limitations imposed by traditional powertrain placements.
Park Jong-sul, a senior research fellow at Hyundai Motor Group’s Institute of Advanced Technology Development, emphasized the potential of the Uni Wheel in creating additional space within the EV platform, which had previously been occupied by the powertrain. This newfound space can be repurposed for various purposes such as expanded trunk space, wider passenger seats, or accommodating EV batteries, enabling innovative and futuristic seating arrangements. This development is particularly significant for upcoming technologies like self-driving vehicles and customizable car designs, including robot-based delivery systems.
Furthermore, Kim Ki-seok, another researcher at the institute, highlighted the system’s adaptability across a wide range of vehicles, from small 4-inch wheels for wheelchairs and bicycles to larger 25-inch van wheels, irrespective of the engine type. This versatility opens doors for diverse applications across different types of mobility vehicles.
The Uni Wheel system’s distinct motor setup also empowers singular mobility devices or vehicles to navigate stairs smoothly, resembling the motion of an escalator. This technology marks a pivotal project for Hyundai, with Park mentioning the completion of the phase 2 development process and plans to further advance the system’s application in upcoming vehicles.
Initially, the wheel drive system will be implemented in the rear wheels of premium EV lineups due to higher costs. Hyundai aims to incorporate rotational steering within the Uni Wheel, collaborating with Hyundai Mobis, known for its innovative ‘Crab Walking’ wheel, to develop a multifunctional module combining in-wheel motors, rotational steering, and electronic braking.
This groundbreaking technology holds eight patents worldwide, affirming its uniqueness and global recognition. Hyundai’s Uni Wheel system, while stabilizing motor power delivery to the wheel without influencing the sun gear’s rotation, offers enhanced stability during rough terrain driving or high-speed maneuvers, potentially extending the electric car’s range and performance capabilities.