Twenty years since the Modek and AUTOnomy projects engineers have been thrilled by the idea of a universal electric skateboard platform, on the basis of which a huge number of models could be created. This idea has surfaced many times in different variations. Recent examples include Karma, Bollinger, Rivian, GM, Williams, and Canoo. Here it is the new project of the Israel startup Ree which stands out with a number of interesting solutions.
The flat platform with a traction battery is supplemented in the Ree project with the so-called Corner Module. This is not a motor wheel in the literal sense, but very close to them in terms of ideas and advantages (in the platform itself, almost all the space is occupied by the battery, and the car has short overhangs and ensures maximum use of space for passengers and cargo). This design is partly reminiscent of the long-standing design of the Michelin Active Wheel with integrated suspension, electric drive and other components inside the rim.
The smallest version of the Ree skateboard weighs 384 kg, which, according to the developers, is 33% less than the electric car platform, built on the principle of Tesla’s models, and 67% lighter than cars with ICE (including engine).
Ree CEO Daniel Barel believes that even now, when designing electric platforms, inertia engineers transfer to them many technical solutions inherited from ICE vehicles. In the Ree project, the electric car will be free from previous restrictions.
The shortest version of the platform is covered with a rounded capsule. So you can get Ree Air – a four-seat shuttle three meters long, 1.6 meters wide, with a wheelbase of two meters, a turning radius of only four meters. The total power of two electric motors (they stand only at the rear) is 60 kW (81 hp), the maximum speed reaches 60 mph (100 km/h), power range is 185 miles (300 km).
The Ree Share has a longer wheelbase of 2.8 m, a width of 1.8 m and a length of 3.7 m accommodates six or eight. The maximum speed here is slightly lower (55 mph or 90 km/h), but the total power of the motors is 80 kW (109 hp), and the power range is 350-400 km. The largest device in the lineup is the Ree Bolder electric car. Its base is 3.6 m, length – 5.9 m, width – 2.3 m.
The suspension (passive or semi-active with level maintenance, with levers that go inside the wheel rim) is compactly combined, steering and disk brake (all of them are activated only by wire), plus an electric motor with gearbox and control electronics with the necessary software. The corner module can be removed and replaced in just 18 minutes, which is a huge plus for repairs and maintenance. This also allows you to assemble different models quickly and simply.
Ree Air, Share and Bolder cover the gross weight range of 1.2–5.8 tons. And this whole idea of combining a single “trolley” with different add-ons clearly resonates with the Rinspeed series of projects (Snap, microSNAP, MetroSnap). Batteries in the project are supposed to be used with different operating voltages, from 48-volt to 600-volt, and, of course, in several versions in terms of capacity. In general, an Israeli company has developed a system with very high variability. Therefore, as its authors dream, it will come in handy for solving a wide range of tasks – from creating compact personal vehicles to large commercial vehicles.
Ree’s partners in this project include Mitsubishi Corporation, American Axle and Musashi (the latter two are known for producing a wide range of transmission units). In general, individual parts and components for the Ree platform can come from more than 300 factories around the world. And the finished product can be collected by contract manufacturers.
The Israelis are negotiating with a number of firms that are capable of producing such electric cars at their facilities. There are no specific deadlines for launching something like this on a thread. However, in the spring of this year, the American magazine Fast Company included Ree in the list of the most innovative companies (World’s Most Innovative Companies 2020).