It really manages to reduce unsprung mass with clever solutions.
When we first wrote about REE, we had more doubts than information about what the Israeli company was proposing. So we reached out to its PR team. And interviewed the company’s CEO, Daniel Barel. He told us everything was in-wheel, which seemed incompatible with the reduced unsprung mass the company claimed to have achieved. Nothing a visit to the Frankfurt Motor Show could not clarify, especially with the help of Ran Dekel, the automotive team leader for the company.
Dekel gave us an extensive explanation of what the REE system offers. And not all is inside the wheel, as Barel had previously told us. The impression we had was that he just could not clarify all our doubts. Was it a problem with patents? According to Barel, no. Apparently, it was a request from Musashi, its main partner.
“It has a torque transfer module between the motor and the wheel. The suspension has a 150 mm travel for 17-inch wheels and steering is by wire,” said Dekel. “A larger wheel will be able to provide more travel.”
This image from REE’s press conference presentation shows some more details of the system:
The company calls the system Corner Module. The wheel seems to have an integrated brake disk according to this image, but it would not make sense. Watching the video, you see the company uses lots of different wheels, which seem to be just regular ones.
Anyway, the single-wheel brake-by-wire system integrates the e-motor and a friction brake. The steering is also by-wire. The descriptions shed a little more light on how it works, but things are definitely not all inside the wheel. On the contrary.
What REE has developed is an electric module with a low unsprung mass that can be easily attached to a platform: “It only requires only four bolts and an electric connection. If any of them has any trouble, you can fix it in less than 15 minutes. Just replace the module and keep going,” said Dekel.
The engineer said each of these modules currently has 15 kW (20 hp), but that they could be scaled to be stronger. He also said that there are three applications currently envisioned. Notice that the wheels that steer are placed in larger wheel arches.
One of them would be for a small delivery autonomous car. It is called REE Air and it currently uses the blue platform that was presented at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The second idea is for a passenger car with four or six seats called REE Share. It uses the red platform, which is wider and longer.
It will also be the foundation for the last one, a commercial vehicle called REE Bolder. More than real products, these are theoretical situations in which the REE in-wheel motor could be a perfect fit. Especially the ones that cannot waste time with servicing.
“It was a real challenge to have parts that could cope with all the physical demands this solution will face, but we are pretty happy with the results and anxious to show the world what it is able to do,” said Dekel.
We still want to have images of the in-wheel motors and of all its parts. Hopefully, Misashi will not oppose if REE presents all these things in more detail in the future.