The company, REE, plans to license it out to other companies.
A young startup out of Tel Aviv, Israel by the name of "REE" has cooked up a new flexible platform for pure-electric vehicles that could prove game-changing.
Like many other EV platforms, REE's follows a "skateboard" design philosophy, with its battery packs, suspension, and other vital components housed within a vertically compact package that can theoretically underpin just about any vehicle body type. But REE's design is different in that each corner assembly is a self-contained unit, with a wheel, hub, motor, suspension, and electronic control unit all within a single module that can be replaced in just 18 minutes.
The concept could be especially useful to commercial fleet customers, for whom vehicle downtime means lost business revenue. In fact, a six-wheeled version of REE's EV platform has already been showcased by Toyota's commercial vehicle division, Hino Motors, which has established a partnership with the Israel-based startup.
Of course, that design is also conducive to flexibility, as it allows REE to change the dimensions of the platform however is necessary without having to reengineer the whole thing.
The inventive new EV platform uses by-wire controls for acceleration, braking and steering - that is, the steering wheel and pedals have no hard, mechanical linkage to their respective systems, instead simply sending electrical signals to a central electronic control unit. And although the platform uses individual wheel drive motors, they aren't hub-mounted units, like some manufacturers are deploying, but are rather contained within the platform to limit unsprung mass.
But perhaps the most fascinating aspect of REE's strategy is how it will produce the platform. The company has no manufacturing base of its own. Instead, it's identified several partner companies with excess production capacity that can build the platform, sparing the startup the pain of having to sink significant capital into building a facility.
Beside Toyota's commercial division, REE has other OEM and tier-one supplier partners, like Mitsubishi and American Axle & Manufacturing. But don't expect REE's tech to land in a volume production car to go head-to-head with the likes of the Chevrolet Bolt and Tesla Model Y anytime soon. Instead, the young startup's business model puts it more directly in competition with the likes of American startup Rivian.
REE has identified numerous segments in which it could compete. "One is new autonomous delivery vehicles," co-founder and CEO Daniel Barel told Autocar recently, although "[s]ome countries are more open to that than others."
"Shuttles are an interesting business for us as well. And a robotaxi we're building with a partner is 2.5 cm longer than a Smart car and seats five comfortably."