EV tech unlocks new possibilities for how next-gen models can maneuver, including a full 90-degree crab walk.
Parallel parking is such a pain in the butt, isn’t it? It takes practice and space to get a conventional car into a tight space…but not with some new EV technology. Hyundai Mobis — the Korean automaker’s parts and service arm — is developing its new e-Corner module to make frustrating and inconvenient driving tasks a thing of the past. To that end, the company demonstrated where it’s at with this technology on the new Ioniq 5, doing some sci-fi level tricks that could make it to Hyundai Group’s future electric cars.
The test car has four e-Corner modules, one at each wheel. To that, Hyundai Mobis connects an in-wheel motor, so all the suspension, braking and steering is handled at each corner. There aren’t conventional axles, half-shafts or a steering rack that would limit the wheels’ overall mobility, allowing it to rotate up to 90 degrees off dead-center. Not only does that allow this car to crab walk sideways into a tight parking space, but it can also turn around in its own footprint, or a “zero turn”.
No more pesky three-point turns!
The freakiest trick, in my opinion, is the “pivot turn”, where it turns the back wheels to swing the rear end of the car around. Imagine drawing a circle around a center point using a compass and you’ll get the idea (or watch the video below to see how it works in real time). In essence, Hyundai Mobis’ technology allows the vehicle to turn any which way by precisely controlling how each wheel needs to move. To make that happen, the steering system is entirely drive-by-wire, since physically linking the steering wheel to each corner would naturally limit their pivoting ability.
We may see this in production cars by mid-decade
Now, Hyundai’s far from the only automaker to work on this sort of tech. The GMC Hummer EV can crab walk as well, while Rivian worked on its ‘Tank Turn’ through the R1T’s development cycle. The electric Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen has some moves of its own, too.
To create this prototype using the Ioniq 5, Hyundai Mobis moved the wheels a bit from where they’d normally be positioned, so it looks a bit weird where they sit compared to the arches and the rest of the body. Nevertheless, the company should work those issues out by the time an actual production unit rolls (or perhaps crab walks) out.
As for when we might be able to buy an e-Corner-equipped vehicle, Hyundai Mobis is aiming to have it ready by 2025. It’s unclear what sort of vehicles Hyundai will pair with this technology, be it a conventional car you can actually drive or something autonomous, like so many of these lounge-on-wheels concepts we’re seeing these days.