This Hyundai Ioniq 5 EV Prototype Also Learned How To Crab Walk
Raise your hand if you had “crab-walking Hyundai Ioniq 5” on your 2023 bingo card—it’s a prototype that can turn its wheels up to 90 degrees.
The prototype is the work of Hyundai Mobis, the division of Hyundai that deals with parts and developing autonomous driving. The modified Ioniq 5 features a technology the company has dubbed "e-Corner." It involves each wheel getting its own electric motor, electronic damper, and brake- and steer-by-wire controls. This allows each wheel to drive, stop, and turn independently. Plus, it allows the wheel modules to be freely fitted to different body styles without taking up excess space in the rest of the vehicle.
You can see it in action below. It's pretty fun.
Since each wheel can swivel and drive independently, it enables the Ioniq 5 to achieve some nifty driving feats. The wheels can all be turned 90 degrees, allowing the vehicle to crabwalk directly into or out of a parallel parking space, for example. The car can spin on the spot by swiveling the wheels outward and driving them in opposite directions. It can also drive diagonally by steering all four wheels in the same direction, or pivot around the front wheels by steering only at the rear.
The technology really opens up the maneuverability of the vehicle. It's easy to see how these abilities would come in handy when it comes to difficult tasks like parallel parking in tight spaces. We've seen similar feats achieved with Lego, but it's amazing to see a full-sized car doing the same. Other car companies have explored using individual wheel motors for zero-radius turns before, such as the Rivian R1T. The GMC Hummer EV also makes use of its rear-wheel steering to do some neat crab-walking tricks. However, the addition of a full 90 degrees of steering to each wheel really takes the car's abilities up to another level.
The technology was first revealed several years ago. However, it's only at this year's CES show that the world got to see the e-Corner hardware implemented on the full-sized Ioniq 5 SUV. With such a range of motion in steering at all four corners, it gives the SUV maneuverability on par with most contemporary forklifts.
Details on the e-Corner modules are sparse at this stage, and it's unclear whether this technology is something Hyundai plans to bring to market. Hurdles to overcome would include developing the wheel motor system to deliver comparable performance and efficiency to existing EV drivetrain technologies.
Fundamentally, the world has gotten by with far less maneuverable cars over the last century or so. That fact alone may leave the e-Corner technology as more of a curio than a mass-market proposition. However, it's hard to deny that parallel parking wouldn't be far more satisfying if you could simply slew sideways right into the bay.
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