Electric vehicles have changed how power electronics are placed in a vehicle.

One EV design, in fact, brings the power out toward the wheel.

With in-wheel motors, a power module is mounted onto each of the four driving wheels. By independently controlling the wheels, the integrated motor brings the behavior of the car more in tune with the steering. When accelerating or cornering, the car with a wheel-mounted motor has a finer control and moves more intuitively in the way the driver wants.

Has in-wheel power caught on, though?

Jeff Hemphill, SAE International

In a live Tech Briefs-led presentation last week titled The Art of EV Propulsion System Design, a reader had the following question for Jeff Hemphill, President of SAE International:

Jeff, do you see a proliferation of wheel-mounted drive systems?

Read Hemphill's edited response below.

Jeff Hemphill: We have worked for almost a decade on wheel-mounted drive systems, even including the power electronics out at the wheel.

We really thought that that would allow completely different kinds of vehicles to be designed, because you can really take the powertrain completely out of the passenger compartment or cargo compartment. [The effort] took a while, but it does seem to be catching on.

Surprisingly, we thought that maybe the first application would be in applications like robo-taxis, because you could fit more passengers in. But it turns out: it’s all different kinds of utility vehicles that are coming for prototypes now: street sweepers, garbage trucks for cities, vehicles where maneuverability is a big advantage. We do have some now inquiries for what you might call robo-taxis. The wheel-mounted drive systems seem to be coming, maybe a bit slower than we thought, but it seems to be getting there.

What do you think? Share your questions and comments below.