Electric skateboard – A Faster Way to Bring Electric Vehicles to Market1 month ago | 0 Replies
The industry is scrambling to bring electric vehicles (EVs) to market to meet increasingly stringent carbon dioxide emissions and CAFE standards, or OEMs will pay huge financial penalties. However, this should be done with as little investment as possible, given the uncertainty over the service life and acceleration curves of these new cars. Non-traditional car manufacturers and large fleets are also considering tailoring electric vehicles to meet their specific needs, whether transporting people or goods. However, quantity does not always justify platform-specific development.
Over the past year, a number of products and startups have emerged that enable companies with limited expertise or resources to build complete electric vehicles or build them under contract. Modular electric rolling chassis, aka skateboards, are specifically designed to “fit” with various types and shapes of bodywork in an approach reminiscent of the passenger car manufacturing industry of the 1930s. Larry Burns, then GM’s vice president of research and development, and his team first introduced the concept about 20 years ago.
There are two pure skateboarders, AEV Robotics and REE. Rivian and Canoo first developed the vehicle, and now their EV platform can be used for other applications. A pair of complementary Tier 1 suppliers, Bosch and Benteler, are providing mature electric skateboards from their parts boxes. Finally, supercar manufacturer RIMAC will develop and manufacture high-performance electric vehicle subsystems for the industry. What are these companies actually doing, and how are they contributing to the electrification of global mobility?
The Australian startup showcased its connected, autonomous, electric platform at CES 2019. AEV Robotics is positioning it as a skateboard on which it can work with partners to design and build a variety of cargo and people transporters. This skateboard is the only one I know of that promises integrated self-driving functionality, although that part of the value proposition may be a distant prospect for AEV. The basic design provides front and rear wheel steering.
No partnerships with original equipment manufacturers or major suppliers have been announced.
Source: Rare Earth Automotive
Rare earth car
Israel-based REE came out of stealth mode in mid-2019. What makes the company’s skateboard unique is the corner module it developed in collaboration with Tier 1 suppliers. The compact subsystem integrates power, braking, steering and suspension. This design allows for easy interchange and can be used to maximize fleet availability. The modular architecture offers a discount between 60 kW (two motors) and 180 kW (four motors).
In late 2019, REE announced a partnership with Japanese truck market Hino Motors. The two companies demonstrated an all-electric 6-wheel flat bed concept based on REE technology. Partnerships with Mitsubishi and supplier AAM have also been announced.
In the security
Founded in Michigan in 2009, the well-funded startup has raised more than $300,000 so far to launch its battery-electric R1T pickup truck and R1S SUV by the end of 2020. Rivian is developing the vehicles from the ground up and will build them in-house. The modular platform initially features a 174-horsepower motor on each wheel with industry-leading battery capacity of up to 180 kWh — followed by the Tesla Model S and X’s 100 kWh.
Amazon, which led a $700 million investment in 2019, recently ordered 100,000 vans, which will be designed on the same platform (above) and built by Rivian, with first delivery in 2021. The platform’s modularity will make it possible to accommodate a number of motors and battery capacities for a variety of use cases, such as four motors for harsh winter areas.
Ford and Rivian, which invested $500 million a year ago, will jointly develop an SUV with the Lincoln logo on the R1T/R1S platform. After the recently introduced Mustang Mach-E, this may be Ford Motor’s only second-purpose battery electric vehicle. For Blue Oval OEMs, this is certainly a way to accelerate their electrified range of products. One can also suspect that the Mach-e platform was designed for the new Lincoln EV.
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Canoo, based in Los Angeles, has designed a seven-seater electric car from the ground up that will be distributed on a subscription model and is expected to launch in 2021. The vehicle was designed in collaboration with Magna, a large supplier and car assembler. Most of the development work went into the EV platform. The modular skateboard features a 2 – or 4-wheel drive design with up to 300 horsepower and a battery capacity of up to 80 kilowatt-hours.
Hyundai Motor and Canoo recently announced that they will jointly develop an all-electric platform based on the Canoo skateboard for the upcoming Hyundai and Kia electric vehicles. The move signals Hyundai’s strategy to accelerate its electrification, given that the South Korean original equipment manufacturer already has battery-powered electric vehicles (such as the Kona) in its lineup. This is further supported by Hyundai’s investments in Rimac (see below) and UK electric van startup Arrival.
Rivian and Canoo will certainly benefit from increased sales from their respective partnerships to amortize investments more quickly and negotiate cost reductions with suppliers.
At CES 2020, two German suppliers unveiled their jointly developed dual motor EV platform. With expandable battery storage, the skateboard is ready to be used with an application-friendly upper body. Notably, the two suppliers announced a partnership with Automobili Pininfarina last September. Can we expect full electric vehicles in this partnership?
The United Skateboard demonstrated at CES will no doubt remind interested parties that existing players have the technical depth and flavor to serve the needs of the industry. However, do they have the flexibility of a small company to bring a vehicle to market quickly and efficiently?
The Croatian startup showcased its technical expertise by bringing the low-volume C2 electric supercar to market. While RIMAC intends to continue to produce exclusive vehicles, they will also use their expertise to become a tier one supplier of high-performance electric vehicle subsystems to the automotive industry.
Notably, Porsche and Hyundai have both invested in the company since 2018, acquiring 15% and 14% stakes, respectively. We can expect RIMAC to provide components and assist both OEMs in developing their electric vehicles.
These solutions will not only enable small OEMs to bring electric vehicles to market more quickly, but will also lower barriers to entry for new mobile participants. That’s a good thing, because the resulting vehicle is all electric. Nonetheless, mature OEMs must fully embrace the evolution of electric platforms. Otherwise, their business scope will shrink dramatically unless they successfully transform into a mobile service provider, but that’s another issue entirely!