Automaker Hyundai has introduced a groundbreaking technology named the “Uni Wheel,” aiming to address space constraints in electric vehicles (EVs) by significantly reducing the size of electric drive units. Unlike traditional in-hub motors, the Uni Wheel drive system strategically relocates specific drive components inside the wheel, while maintaining the power unit outside.
This innovation allows Hyundai to utilize a compact motor per wheel, as opposed to a larger drive unit for the entire axle. By incorporating reduction gears into the wheel hub, the Uni Wheel successfully diminishes the motor's overall size. The individual powering of each wheel brings performance and safety benefits, enabling independent responses to varying driving conditions.
Beyond size reduction, the Uni Wheel's unique gear arrangement permits movement within the hub while still transmitting power. This design eliminates the need for a constant velocity (CV) joint, enhancing power delivery efficiency and extending driving range.
The flexibility provided by Uni Wheel technology empowers engineers to adjust the vehicle's ride height more freely. Without a fixed CV joint position, vehicles equipped with Uni Wheel, especially those with air suspension, could dynamically lower for aerodynamic highway driving or raise for increased ground clearance without compromising performance.
Hyundai claims that the Uni Wheel can be accommodated in wheels as small as four inches in diameter, making it suitable for personal mobility devices. Furthermore, the technology can be scaled to function in wheels up to 25 inches in size, catering to larger vehicles like cars and SUVs.
While Hyundai has conducted durability tests with positive results, the company has not disclosed a production timeline. Although patents have been filed in key markets, including Korea, Europe, and the United States, specific details regarding the technology's commercial availability remain undisclosed.
“We are happy to be able to present innovative ideas that could be game changers in the future mobility market,” stated Park Jong-sul, senior research fellow at Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Advanced Technology Institute. “We are developing technology so that customers can experience mobility in a completely different and new way than before.”