Automakers are slowly figuring out how to make EVs better to drive.
Hyundai and Kia have created a new torque vectoring system for electric vehicles with twin clutches, as discovered by CarBuzz. Filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the patent describes potential efficiency gains for EVs with such a system since releasing of the engagement of the clutches can be implemented when the car is coasting. As with all other torque vectoring systems, though, there are a number of potential gains to be had in terms of performance and sportier, more precise driving dynamics.
Perhaps this development from Hyundai is not surprising since it is already known that the upcoming Ioniq 5 N is coming with a grin-inducing drift mode. First, though, let's dig into some of the basics of torque vectoring.
Cars with torque vectoring can manage the amount of torque applied to an individual wheel, be it from an engine or an electric motor. This can improve the vehicle's grip on slippery surfaces but also induce sportier dynamics, as the power is delivered to the appropriate wheel for the specific driving condition. Especially in performance cars, torque vectoring also allows for more controlled drifts.
Torque vectoring can be achieved by a differential, through braking, or electronically. Each has its pros and cons, and some are more complex and expensive to engineer, such as the all-wheel torque vectoring system in the Rimac Nevera that can process 100 calculations every second. This supercar benefits from having an individual electric motor powering each wheel independently, enhancing its torque vectoring capabilities over most conventional models.
Clutch pack torque vectoring, as employed by Hyundai in this patent, is less common than other forms of torque vectoring but has been seen in gas-powered cars like the Ford Focus RS, Mercedes-AMG CLA 45, and Audi RS3.
Hyundai's example works on much the same principle. It features a clutch on each side of the axle. Torque applied to each clutch - and, therefore, each wheel - is independently controlled. Actuation of the clutch plate and clutch disc are performed hydraulically, and when coasting, the drive torque can temporarily be blocked from the motor to enhance efficiency.
Several factors can determine how much torque is necessary or when to apply it per wheel, be it vehicle speed, accelerator/brake pedal sensors, steering angle, lateral G forces, and more.
All of this will hopefully allow Hyundai (and by extension, Kia) to imbue its electric vehicles with a higher level of driver engagement that has often been the preserve of gas-powered models. As the patent states, "the vehicle may be driven stably even if the vehicle turns or slides on any one wheel."
BMW filed a similar patent previously, but unlike the Hyundai patent, it let the BMW disengage an electric motor on each wheel while still maintaining drive, whereas the Hyundai patent focus on one electric motor controlling two wheels.
Having perfected the art of making an EV go quickly in a straight line, automakers are gradually adding more layers to these zero-emission vehicles to broaden their scope of talents.
That includes Toyota's manual gearbox for EVs that simulates a conventional gearbox and exhausts that mimic the sound of ICE cars. While some of these technologies focus too hard on replicating the ICE experience in an EV, we appreciate automakers' willingness to make EVs more enjoyable to drive while creating a more distinct driving character from one EV to the next.
As Hyundai's design is still at the patent stage, there is no guarantee of it making it to production or when we may see this happen.
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