December 2nd, 2020 by Steve Hanley
Way last decade when Tesla first started making the Model S, the automotive world was amazed that anyone would buy one. Pretty soon it became clear that EVs were the future and the automakers began thinking about how to build them for their own customers. One highly placed muckety muck at a well respected German company (I am not making this up!) told the world that building electric cars was no big deal.
Because battery cells are so small, you could just shove them in anywhere the glove box, the center console, under the rear seat and off you go. No need to make big changes to existing products. Rip out the engine, stuff in an electric motor or two, wire it all up, and youre done. Since then, things have changed. The new normal is to design a standard platform that contains the battery pack, inverters, and battery management systems. Putting all that heavy stuff down low in the middle of a car actually does wonders for handling.
For years, the holy grail of the automotive world was the mid-engine car. The Lamborghini Miura was one of the first production cars to try it, mounting a glorious 12-cylinder longitudinally across the centerline of the car about 2 behind the driver. You could actually hear the valves clicking and clacking as the engine zinged its way toward the redline. Fantastico! The Fiat X 1/9 and Toyota MR2 introduced mid-engine sports cars to those with thinner wallets. All of them made drivers feel like gods behind the wheel but little low slung sports cars really arent in the sweet spot if your plan is to sell millions and millions of cars to mainstream buyers.
The modular EV platform is now referred to as a skateboard. All the important bits are combined into one unit then the body which Canoo whimsically calls a top hat is fitted. The skateboard is suitable for anything the styling department can dream up a swoopy 2-seater, a 7-passenger people mover, or even a pickup truck. Such simplicity also helps lower production costs, which is the key to profitability. Without the need to find a place for an engine, transmission, radiator, exhaust system, and driveshaft, there is a lot more room for people and their stuff inside, so electric cars feel more spacious even if they are the same size as traditional models on the outside.
Tesla pretty much pioneered the skateboard concept for electric vehicles. Volkswagen designed the MEB platform for its ID. branded vehicles. Now Hyundai has introduced its own dedicated electric vehicle chassis called E-GMP, which it says will serve as the basis for 23 electric car models by 2025.
Hyundai E-GMP platform, image courtesy of Hyundai
A skateboard is a skateboard is a skateboard, right? Yes and no. While the Hyundai platform has two wheels in front, two wheels in back, and the battery in the middle just like every other EV skateboard, the company says it has come up with some significant improvements that make its design superior to what other manufacturers offer. For instance, the E-GMP platform operates on 800 volts most of the time but can switch to 400 volts to accommodate low power charging systems. In 800 volt mode, it can take advantage of the 350 kW chargers available from Ionity in Europe, and there are reports Hyundai is in talks to gain access to ultra high power chargers in America.
Another important feature of the E-GMP platform is that it is configured at the factory to support vehicle to grid operation. The company says it can even be used to recharge another EV should the need arise. When plugged into an ultra high power charger, the E-GMP platform can attain an 80% state of charge in as little as 18 minutes. The target range for cars built using the new chassis is 500 kilometers WLTP.
Here are some other significant aspects of the E-GMP chassis. It uses pouch cells and a new cooling system to eke out an energy density increase. The motors for the chassis are significantly smaller than conventional EV motors. That smaller size allows them to spin up to 70% faster. The chassis is designed to handle a maximum of 600 horsepower and a top speed of 161 mph. It also features the worlds first mass produced integrated drive axle which combines wheel bearings with the driveshafts that transmit power to the wheels.
Hyundai electric car drive motor, image courtesy of Hyundai
The cars built on the E-GMP chassis will have the primary electric motor mounted at the rear, which uses a 5-link suspension for superior comfort and control. In cars equipped with dual motors, the front unit will uncouple to promote greater driveline efficiency when not in use.
Today our front-wheel driven Hyundai and Kia BEVs are already among the most efficient ones in their segments, says Albert Biermann, head of R&D for Hyundai Motor Group. With our rear-wheel driven based E-GMP, we are extending our technological leadership into segments where customers demand excellent driving dynamics and outstanding efficiency.
E-GMP is the culmination of years of research and development and brings together our most cutting-edge technologies. Our BEV line-up will evolve and be strengthened by this innovative new platform, adds Fayez Abdul Rahman, SVP of the Vehicle Architecture Development Center at Hyundai Motor Group.
Hyundai previously announced it will use the Ioniq name as a sub-brand for its upcoming electric cars. The first car to use the new E-GMP platform will be the Ioniq 5 due in showrooms next year. That should be followed shortly by the visually stunning Ioniq 6 sedan and later by a larger SUV. Corporate cousin KIA will also use the E-GMP platform for its battery electric cars and the new chassis will underpin future products from Genesis, Hyundais luxury vehicle brand.
None of the new electric cars from Hyundai will look the same. In an interview with Auto Express, Sang Yup Lee, head of Hyundais Global Design Center, explained his companys approach to styling when a common platform is used.
Our cars will be more like a chess board where you have a King, Queen, Bishop, Knight. They all look different and function differently but when theyre together, they come as one team. This is what the Hyundai look is all about diversifying our design to fulfill our customers lifestyle. People say that you have to default with the grille looking the same and headlights looking the same, but we want to challenge that consistency in detail. So the cars will look completely different.
The electric car future for Hyundai looks bright. Now if it can solve its battery supply problems, the company may actually become a force in the marketplace for 21st century automobiles.
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Tags: 800 volt architecture, e-GMP platform, electric car platform, Hyundai, ioniq, Vehicle To Grid
Steve Hanley Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his homes in Florida and Connecticut or anywhere else the Singularity may lead him. You can follow him onTwitter but not on any social media platforms run by evil overlords like Facebook.
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