Hyundai Group technology division and auto supplier Hyundai Mobis is hitting its marks in development of its e-Corner module. The module packages a wheel’s suspension, braking, and steering necessities into a free-standing assembly connected at the corner of a vehicle to an in-wheel motor. A vehicle fitted with four e-Corner modules would look and run just like a traditional EV in everyday use, but all of its driving functions are by-wire, a central ECU ensuring the modules work together. The magic of the system is the degree of rotation allowed by omitting links like half-shafts and steering racks. The system’s been demonstrated on public roads around the company campus on a Hyundai Ioniq 5. With each module able to rotate 90 degrees off-axis, the resulting maneuvers capable to the Ioniq 5 prototype look like a TikTok video or science fiction, take your pick.
There are a few small giveaways that something is up with the test car: The modules jack the body up some and push the tires out a bit, causing poke and funky wheel arch alignment, and the wheel arches have additional cutouts to make room for full wheel rotation. By the time Hyundai Mobis achieves a production unit, planned for 2025, those minor issues should be easily addressed with a more compact module or a chassis design that accounts for the module.
A short video showcases several driving modes. Crab Driving turns all modules 90 degrees in the same direction, moving the Ioniq 5 sideways into a parallel parking spot. The Zero Turn is the same as we’ve seen from Rivian’s Tank Turn or the prototype electric G-Wagen. It rotates the modules 45 degrees, front wheels turning in, rear wheels turning out, so the vehicle can rotate in place. The Pivot Turn rotates the rear modules 90 degrees, turning the rear wheels plus one front wheel so that the car can pivot around a stationary front wheel as if the stationery wheel is the fixed point of a compass. This could come in handy in crammed parking lots to avoid making 12-point turns getting into and out of a spot. Finally, there’s Diagonal Driving, which we’d recognize as Hummer’s Crab Walk. Side note since this will come up in some bar somewhere, marine crabs walk sideways or forward, not diagonally, so we gotta give Hyundai the nod for the decapod-appropriate term.
If all goes well with the business case and production plans, Hyundai Mobis wants to start taking orders in 2025. It will be developing a Purpose Built Vehicle — the autonomous living-room-on-wheels kind — as another showcase for the e-Corner. Check out the vid to see what our future living rooms on wheels will be able to do.