REE Automotive will get some help from a Tier 1 automotive supplier as it continues to push a skateboard EV platform toward production.
The Israeli startup has arranged a partnership with KYB, a company that supplies suspension systems to automakers. KYB will apply its suspension expertise to REE's skateboard platform, the companies said in a press release Thursday.
Several companies are developing skateboard platforms for future EVs, but REE has taken a particularly aggressive approach to packaging. Virtually all mechanical components, apart from the battery pack and its associated cooling and power distribution equipment, is housed in the wheel arches.
REE plans to use in-wheel hub motors, which other companies have also discussed using for their own EVs. Lordstown Motors, for example, plans to use them in its upcoming Endurance battery-electric pickup truck. However, REE goes a step further with by-wire steering and brakes, as well as an electric motor-based active suspension system.
REE modular EV platform
It's that suspension system KYB will likely work to tune. It could be a difficult job, as the in-wheel motors will add unsprung mass, which makes tuning ride and handling more challenging.
Unveiled at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show, REE claims its platform is the "world's first truly flat and modular skateboard chassis." the flat design optimizes space gives much more freedom to vehicle designers. For the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show, REE partnered with Japanese truck manufacturer Hino on a concept vehicle with a "plug-and-play" configuration that could easily be fitted with different bodies.
Skateboards have become part of the standard starting points for EV startups. Rivian, for instance, expects to build up to six future vehicles on its skateboard platform, while Byton plans three vehicles on its platform. But REE's platform might be the only one that claims to be production-bound while also integrating everything into the wheel arches.
Not everyone agrees that a skateboard is the best way forward. General Motors says that its BEV3 modular building blocks aren't a skateboard. Ironically, it's the company that is credited with originally coming up with the skateboard idea, in its 2002 Autonomy hydrogen fuel-cell concept.