In a groundbreaking move during the “Uni Wheel Tech Day” event held in Seoul, Hyundai and Kia Corporation showcased their innovative Universal Wheel Drive system, abbreviated as “Uni Wheel.” This novel approach transforms the traditional design of an electric vehicle’s (EV) drivetrain by relocating major components to the wheel hub, creating unprecedented interior space within the vehicle.
Revolutionizing EV Drivetrain Efficiency
As the global mobility landscape transitions towards an all-electric future, the design and mechanics of vehicles have undergone significant changes. Despite these transformations, the drivetrain, a crucial component in internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, has largely remained constant in the shift to electric vehicles. While electric motors offer a more compact alternative, they still occupy space in the front or rear of an EV.
Recognizing the need for innovation, Hyundai and Kia introduced the Uni Wheel system, aiming to optimize platform space without compromising efficiency. Unlike previous attempts by other developers, the Uni Wheel uniquely places the main drive system components within the wheel hub, a design that promises to enhance platform space, interior room, and overall efficiency for effective EV range.
Uni Wheel Technology – A Glimpse into the Future
The Uni Wheel technology, described as a “paradigm-shifting vehicle drive system,” was unveiled during the Tech Day event, accompanied by a press release detailing its transformative features. By moving the drive system components to the wheel hub, the Uni Wheel system enables power transmission with minimal impact on efficiency, regardless of wheel movement. This breakthrough not only maximizes platform space but also offers the potential for unconventional seating configurations within the cabin, aligning with the evolving landscape of autonomous driving technologies.
Looking forward, Hyundai and Kia expressed their commitment to refining the Uni Wheel system, envisioning a future where customers experience mobility in a “completely different and new way.” Although the timeline for integration into actual EVs remains uncertain, the companies have already taken significant steps by applying for and registering eight patents related to the Uni Wheel technology in South Korea, the US, and Europe.
In essence, Hyundai and Kia’s Uni Wheel Drive system marks a significant leap forward in EV design, promising a more spacious and versatile driving experience while maintaining the efficiency required for an effective electric range.