Automotive

REE demonstrates its wildly innovative vehicle platform of the future

REE demonstrates its wildly in...
REE CEO and co-founder Daniel Barel rides the biggest skateboard (EV chassis) in town
REE CEO and co-founder Daniel Barel rides the biggest skateboard (EV chassis) in town
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REE CEO and co-founder Daniel Barel rides the biggest skateboard (EV chassis) in town
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REE CEO and co-founder Daniel Barel rides the biggest skateboard (EV chassis) in town
REE's P1, P2 and P4 platforms line up at the racetrack
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REE's P1, P2 and P4 platforms line up at the racetrack
Never has there been a chassis so flat. The endlessly variable REE chassis design makes incredible use of space
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Never has there been a chassis so flat. The endlessly variable REE chassis design makes incredible use of space
The P4 is the largest of the three, and it's designed to be a USA-spec delivery van
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The P4 is the largest of the three, and it's designed to be a USA-spec delivery van
You can picture any body shape you like on top
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You can picture any body shape you like on top
Ridiculously flexible in their design capabilities, these tiny detachable corner modules bring together virtually every functional feature of a car's chassis and powertrain. Each can be specified to contain an endless range of different motors, gearboxes, brakes, suspension and steering systems, all controlled fully electronically by whoever – or whatever – is driving the thing.
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Ridiculously flexible in their design capabilities, these tiny detachable corner modules bring together virtually every functional feature of a car's chassis and powertrain. Each can be specified to contain an endless range of different motors, gearboxes, brakes, suspension and steering systems, all controlled fully electronically by whoever – or whatever – is driving the thing.
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When we first encountered REE's ultra-modular EV chassis, we struggled to know what to make of it. Speaking to CEO Daniel Barel, we couldn't seem to pin down any specifics. What is it? A flat, modular vehicle chassis in which all steering, suspension, motor, gearbox and braking functions are bundled up into removable, replaceable "corner units" in the wheels.

These corner units have built-in electronics so that every single function can be fully electronically controlled. It's not just drive-by-wire, it's steer-by-wire, brake-by-wire, everything-by-wire. So you can put a steering wheel and pedals in if you want, but it's just as happy to take instructions from an autonomous drive system, or heck, even a remote control. There's no difference as far as the chassis is concerned.

What could it be used for? Well, just about any kind of electric 4-wheeler. The big, flat battery pack offers a genuine "skateboard chassis" on top of which your vehicle design options are just about unlimited. There's no other chassis so flat, or that offers so much room for whatever kind of body you want to stick on top, be it a car, van, small truck, big truck, bus, automated delivery vehicle or crazy off-roader.

Ridiculously flexible in their design capabilities, these tiny detachable corner modules bring together virtually every functional feature of a car's chassis and powertrain. Each can be specified to contain an endless range of different motors, gearboxes, brakes, suspension and steering systems, all controlled fully electronically by whoever – or whatever – is driving the thing.
Ridiculously flexible in their design capabilities, these tiny detachable corner modules bring together virtually every functional feature of a car's chassis and powertrain. Each can be specified to contain an endless range of different motors, gearboxes, brakes, suspension and steering systems, all controlled fully electronically by whoever – or whatever – is driving the thing.

The corner units can be specified with a ridiculously wide range of options. Active suspension? No worries. 4 wheel steering? Piece of cake. How much ground clearance do you want? How much power? Desired torque? Top speed? Two or four wheel drive? Coming right up. REE can turn these things into just about anything, thanks to a network of relationships with tier-one component suppliers like KYB, Musashi, NSK, American Axle, Mitsubishi and others who are signed up to develop components specifically for these modules.

If anything goes wrong, mechanic's trips have never been quicker for a fleet operator. Yank the whole corner off with the release of a few bolts, stick a spare on, and the vehicle is back on the road lickety-split while the spanner team works out what the problem is.

It's a remarkably flexible and practical system, and some major automakers are buying in, seeing the wisdom behind working with a chassis that only needs to be crash-tested and approved once to be relevant for a broad range of vehicles.

Never has there been a chassis so flat. The endlessly variable REE chassis design makes incredible use of space
Never has there been a chassis so flat. The endlessly variable REE chassis design makes incredible use of space

Toyota has partnered with REE on its 'Flatformer' range of electric Hino vehicles, which will include everything from passenger shuttles and delivery vans to garbage trucks, food trucks and mobile medical services. More recently, Indian automaking colossus Mahindra signed an MoA with REE to develop and build an initial run of up to a quarter of a million commercial EVs.

Now, we've got some footage to look at, embedded below, showing three prototype platforms of varying sizes and specifications zipping around a racetrack and some obstacles. There's nothing on top of the chassis, bar the cameras and systems needed by the autonomous drive system that's in control, but the three prototypes are designed to represent different future use cases: a 1.3-ton last-mile delivery buggy, a 2.5-ton passenger and cargo transport, and a 4.5-ton delivery van designed for US market use.

It's not the most exciting thing ever filmed on a racetrack, for sure, and the rockin' soundtrack calls a certain degree of attention to that fact, but it does give us a good look at the hinged electronic steering and compact in-wheel suspension in action.

Perhaps some folk will need to see the bodywork, seats, paint and finish before they glimpse the massive potential of this monstrously flexible idea. Others will realize they're not looking at a car, van or truck that can be pinned down, they're looking at a radical upending and streamlining of the automotive design and production process that could hit the road with a thousand different faces, logos, body shapes and technical capabilities.

REE on track

Source: REE

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21 comments
zr2s10
I think these are a great idea for a wide range of vehicles.
Although I do disagree with the statement: "working with a chassis that only needs to be crash-tested and approved once to be relevant for a broad range of vehicles".
There's more to crash testing than just the bottom chassis. The entire cab comes in to play, so every configuration will need tested for safety. An advantage would be that they could possibly test them with a chassis that has the motors and batteries removed to save costs. Maybe even use quality rejected motors to exactly simulate structure. Batteries may need to be in for some tests, to make sure there are no issues with shorts in crashes.
paul314
Is all the mix and match only at the factory? I'm imagining a setup where I could just unbolt the interior (except for maybe two front seats/dashboard/winshield) for carrying large objects. Reconfigure for camping. Bolt on high-clearance corners to go off road...

Nah, probably not in the cards, but it would solve the crossover problem.
Aross
No mention of battery size, range nor recharge rate. I assume that range will depend on what is built on top of the platform. I think a quickly swap-able battery setup would be an advantage if the range is less than 1000km.
jerryd
I'd like to see a connected link in steering wheels and linked steering, braking as just too important to leave to electronics, as an electronics tech.
And in EVs having correct alinement of the wheels is not an option as greatly increases drag. On my EVs I don't use tow in/out which I set to 0 because of this.
Nobody
So how will this work when running in mud or snow? Nothing like a little road salt to short out the electronics.
Riatonon
18 wheelers big trucks will be crushing these on the road, too low not visible definitely not safe they may have their place somewhere maybe distribution or transport inside private property or warehouse
CAVUMark
Where do you sit?
riczero-b
Should be made the size of a freight container.
MDR
Very interesting.
Looks like REE may have made the leap from vapor to reality.
One complaint regarding the promo video -
Like so many other EV promo videos, there is a blaring sound track that drowns out one of the key features of EVs - the silence!
Th3boyg
Surely any superstructure is going to have to provide torsional rigidity. Right? I wonder how they've designed the connection points between the skateboard and the cabin / bed. A modular platform is pretty interesting...