An electric powertrain allows for a lot more possibilities for improving low-speed maneuverability, as Hyundai recently demonstrated.
The automaker's Hyundai Mobis mobility-tech division has developed a hardware set called "e-corner" that allows a vehicle's individual wheels to rotate up to 90 degrees. The system was first shown in 2021, and the general concept dates back to 2018, but Hyundai Mobis has now applied it to a Hyundai Ioniq 5 to show its potential.
Hyundai Mobis e-corner module
With e-corner, the Ioniq 5 can crab sideways like a GMC Hummer EV, turn in place much like the "tank turn" maneuver exhibited by Rivian and Mercedes-Benz EQG prototypes, drive diagonally, or do a pivot turn, where one set of wheels remains stationary and acts as a pivot point for the rest of the car.
Making this possible are modules that incorporate the hardware needed to rotate the wheels at different angles. Hyundai Mobis appears to have skipped the idea of in-wheel motors, however, perhaps keeping the motor together with the module but not part of the actual wheel's unsprung weight. That added unsprung weight can make tuning for ride quality and handling difficult.
Hyundai Mobis has said that it aims to develop a skateboard platform with four e-corner modules by 2023, and integrate it with autonomous-driving tech by 2025, to create a vehicle purpose-built for mobility services.
The concept of a highly-maneuverable skateboard platform is similar to the approach of Israeli startup REE, which has shown three versions of its own skateboard platform, and has made a deal to supply at least one version to Indian automaker Mahindra for commercial vehicles.