Michelin, Protean Electric, and many other suppliers have already tried to present wheels that contain electric motors and suspension elements. So far, no vehicle apart from concepts has adopted the idea. But the Israeli startup REE seems to intend to change that. And to compete with VW at the same time.
The company has presented a concept that has no fancy name, such as Active Wheel or ProteanDrive. Or any name at all, for the record. Its website is difficult to navigate and to find any sort of information or pictures apart from the ones published by other websites. This info, a few pictures, and the video below are what led us to try to dig a little deeper.
Apparently, REE’s wheel is not exactly an in-wheel system. It seems to place the rim as the sole moving piece of its system and to have an independent unit that concentrates not only the electric motor and the suspension but also the steering.
Another video shows the alleged EV solution getting disassembled and put together again. Check it out below:
It belongs to REE’s channel on YouTube, but it is not a listed video. Just like the main one we have posted on this article. The latter suggests the idea that REE wants to compete with Volkswagen and its MEB electric modular platform.
Just to clarify this David vs Goliath future and so far imaginary battle, Volkswagen wants its new EV architecture to have a similar role to that the VW Beetle chassis had in the past, allowing for lots of small (or mainstream) manufacturers to have their EVs. From little sports cars to dune buggies.
If you still have not watched the main video in this article, it suggests the EV platform could suit a lot of different applications.
The first implies it is a 4.70 m (185 inches) long sedan that looks like a minivan, has a 2.81 m (110.6 in) wheelbase, three seat rows, two doors, semi-active suspension, a range of 400 miles, and is RWD.
The second is what the company calls a RoboTaxi. Presumably autonomous, it would share length and wheelbase with the sedan, but present four-wheel steering, “magic carpet” suspension and “preventative” maintenance.
Being an autonomous vehicle, it would surely need to independently point out when it needs any repair. After all, it will not have a driver to listen to strange noises or to perceive any change in dynamics.
REE also proposes an electric pickup truck. We just have no idea how the driver would hop in it. There are no doors on the proposed cabin. Perhaps a solution like the one the 1965 Dodge Deora had?
But this is not the main doubt the proposition arises. It would also offer 720 hp, 20,000 Nm (14,751 lb-ft) of “ground torque” and an 850 kg (1,874 lb) payload. Length and wheelbase? You already know them.
There are also a minivan – with four seat rows, active suspension, and “hight levelling (sic)” – and a sports car. The latter looks just like the sedan apart from having 400 kW (536 hp), a 300-mile range, and going from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 2.6 seconds.
We know: it smells and feels like vaporware, even if REE is a sort of a spinoff of SoftWheel. This company – which claimed a while ago to have received investments from Mitsubishi Corporation – is trying to sell the idea of a wheel with a suspension system that could be fitted to bicycles and wheelchairs, as you may check below.
To be fair with REE, the wheelbase and length of all cars seem to be just an illustration of possibilities the wheel arrangement and the EV platform could offer. But the fact is that there is a lot of information missing for the company’s idea to be fully credible.
We have tried to contact the company and will write a new article when we get all the answers that we need. Until them, remember to take all about REE with a pinch of salt.