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Rear-Wheel-Drive Automobiles Are Again, Child, and We Have EVs to Thank

Rear-Wheel-Drive Automobiles Are Again, Child, and We Have EVs to Thank

2023-04-20 09:16:22

Entrance-wheel-drive vehicles have been an business norm for many years. Whether or not or not it’s your grandmother’s Toyota Camry or that hot hatch you’ve always dreamed about, there’s been no scarcity of vehicles that transversely-mounted powerplants known as residence over time. And why would not they be? Entrance-wheel-drive (FWD) vehicles have been cheaper to construct and sometimes resulted in roomier, extra economical packaging than the rear-wheel-drive of the ’70s and ’80s. However it additionally meant some sacrifices to efficiency.

Quick-forward to 2023, and automobile platforms that after could be devoted to a combustion engine paired with a FWD drive structure as a substitute obtain battery energy with an electrical motor at one or each ends. For automobiles with solely a single motor, many producers have reversed course and determined as a substitute to have the drive motor energy the rear wheels.

Fairly just a few automakers have already dedicated to RWD drivetrains. Tesla, Hyundai, Kia, and Volkswagen have all already made the transfer with their single-motor electrical automobiles. Now, Volvo and its electrical sister model, Polestar, will be part of as the 2 most up-to-date automakers to announce their respective forays into the RWD idea. For Volvo, meaning its first dedication to a rear-wheel-drive automobile in 1 / 4 century.

However why the change? Certainly a long time of automaking have confirmed that FWD is the superior drivetrain. proper?

Nicely, not precisely. FWD has at all times been a little bit of a compromise. Certain, the packaging made sense—simply take a look at Chrysler’s K-Cars of the 80s—but it surely was actually a less expensive methodology of constructing vehicles that have been higher on fuel mileage. (Which means drive configuration was additionally an incredible reply to the oil disaster and Clear Air Act). Certain, automakers made one of the best of what they might, however many efficiency and dealing with benefits have been stripped from on a regular basis automobiles.

Along with transferring the drive wheels to the rear, an EV has the benefit of transferring weight round. For instance, the heavy combustion engine that after lived underneath the hood of the automotive could be completely stationed on the rear of a single-motor automobile instantly over the drive wheels.

“Once we scale back the burden on the entrance axle, we make the automotive a bit of bit extra agile and a bit of bit extra enjoyable to drive,” defined Joakim Rydholm, head of chassis growth at Polestar, in an interview with Automotive News Europe.

“So, we enhance traction, we enhance directness, pace of response, and that collectively provides extra driving pleasure. This implies we are able to enhance consolation with out sacrificing on efficiency and the dealing with.”

However that is not all; floor-mounted battery packs in trendy EVs have helped to steadiness weight distribution tremendously. So whereas electric cars are indeed heavier, it is simpler to attain that near-perfect ratio between the entrance and rear axles by spreading out the burden over the size of the automotive.

Furthermore, trendy traction management methods are simply plain good. This is not one thing unique to electrical vehicles—even gas-powered automobiles have achieved respectable torque vectoring by modulating brakes independently at every wheel, however trendy EVs take it up a notch by performing 1000’s of software-based each second. And by positioning the drive unit instantly over the drive wheels (identical to in a FWD automobile), the added weight helps with traction.

“Within the outdated days one drawback of getting a lightweight rear finish was that rear-wheel drive could be ‘thrilling’ in some moments due to a lack of traction,” stated Christian Samson, Polestar’s head of product attributes.

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Not all automakers have jumped aboard the RWD practice simply but.

Nissan, for instance, has claimed that it has kept the Leaf front-wheel-drive to maximise room within the hatch space. In the meantime, its brand-new Ariya EV is out there with a dual-motor AWD drivetrain however nonetheless retains FWD for its single-motor configuration, which means that the reasoning for the Leaf doubtless would not apply to the Ariya.

Common automotive patrons ought to rejoice. The truth that RWD is returning means the potential for extra pleasurable dealing with. So, regardless of the character of the combustion engine being phased out throughout the board, there are nonetheless some thrilling issues to look ahead to relating to electrical vehicles, and RWD is one in every of them.

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