The demand for carbon neutrality for a sustainable future is growing day by day, and many automakers are joining in; New electric vehicles are unveiled every year, and their sales are growing rapidly. However, there are people who concern the spread of electric vehicles - enthusiasts doubt whether electric vehicles can deliver the exhilaration and emotion of what a high-performance internal combustion engine could offer.
As N brand aims to build an ‘everyday sports car’ with dynamic cornering capabilities as well as racetrack capability, N is moving forward to minimize enthusiasts’ concerns; Even in the electric era, N brand pursues the exhilarating pleasures of high-performance cars and pours its energy into developing brand’s 3 product pillars : Cornering Rascal, Race Track Capability, Everyday Sports car. The RN22e shows how N brand is maintaining the driving fun in the high-performance electric vehicle which will be unveiled next year.
The RN22e is the next-generation Rolling lab series following the RM project, which has started since 2012. The Rolling lab tests and verifies high-performance technology inspired by motorsports such as WRC, WTCR, and ETCR before incorporating into mass-produced N models. This has served as a steppingstone for automakers to mass-produce advanced high-performance technologies. Examples of high-performance technologies perfected by the RM project include E-LSD, 8-speed wet N DCT, and rear spoiler - housed by several current N models such as Veloster N, Kona N, and Elantra N.
In 2014, the RM Project began to draw attention with its first prototype, the RM14. The RM - Racing Midship, meaning the most suitable configuration for sports driving - project has released RM15, RM16, RM19. Then the first electrified prototype, RM20e, was showcased in 2020 and continued to use the original code name; This year, N brand announced its electrified vision along with the renewal of Rolling lab series : RN22e. The name ‘RM’ changed into the ‘RN’ project by combining the ‘R’ of the Rolling lab and the ‘N’ of the N brand. The number indicates the year of manufacture, and the ‘e’ indicates the electric technology.
You can tell from its birth that the RN22e is different from the other RM project. Unlike the RM20e with a midship structure that housed electric technology for the first time, the RN22e is based on E-GMP, Hyundai Motor Group’s electric global modular platform that incorporates technologies such as 800V high voltage system and front wheel`s EV transmission disconnector technology. RN22e also incorporated all the high-performance know-hows from the past RM project. This is how RN22e became the first Rolling lab to feature all-wheel drive with front and rear electric motors that feature powerful performance. Also, unlike the Veloster’s face, which was common to current RM projects, the RN22e has the looks of Hyundai’s second dedicated electric vehicle, the IONIQ 6.
The RN22e also used the body of the IONIQ 6 to take advantage of its aerodynamic performance. IONIQ 6 with a sleek and streamlined design is not only the best among all Hyundai models, but also shows the most ideal aerodynamic performance (CD 0.218) among its mass-produced models. And based on the design of the IONIQ 6 with optimal aerodynamic performance, the RN22e is supported by an ideal aerodynamic design(CD 0.214), such as wheel air curtains, a rear spoiler as wide as the vehicle width, and a huge rear diffuser. This makes it possible to concentrate on the software development that can control the electric powertrain during driving at the limit.
In addition, RN22e houses the know-hows from all different aspects. The experience from ETCR (electric touring car race) motorsports collects data about EV driving under harsh condition, and the past RM project gives know-hows on how to test and develop the motorsports inspired technology. Finally the E-GMP developed through IONIQ 5 & 6 makes the RN22e to concentrate on developing cutting-edge technology. This means that the RN22e is not only equipped with a powerful electric motor and large-capacity battery, but aimed to develop a high-performance electric vehicle from the beginning of its development. This shows the N brand’s willingness to provide driving pleasure with the three pillars - Corner Rascal, Race Track Capability, and Everyday Sports Cars - even in the electrification era.
The RN22e, equipped with the N brand’s first four-wheel drive system, utilizes electric motors mounted one at the front and the other at the rear wheel. The maximum output of the electric motor is 160kW at the front and 270kW at the rear, making a total of 430kW (about 580 horsepower), and the maximum torque 740Nm (about 75.5kgf·m). As a result, the vehicle can offer exhilarating cornering experience.
The RN22e utilizes the front-wheel EV transmission disconnector technology, one of the E-GMP-specific technologies that allows power distribution on the front/rear. This power distribution technology is further developed with the know-hows from WRC, where four-wheel drive rally cars get to drive on harsh conditions. As a result, this technology quickly switches between four-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive by disconnecting the front-wheel motor according to the driving situation, enabling driving thrill.
In the RN22e, other advanced technologies are also housed - not only the front and rear drive power distribution, but also the drive power of the main drive shaft, the rear wheel, to the left and right. It is a torque vectoring (e-TVTC) technology that distributes driving force to the left and right rear wheels while attaching and detaching the twin clutch of the rear electric motor. The e-TVTC can send all the driving power to only one of the left and right rear wheels, offering such effects of what e-LSD does with the internal combustion engine N models : it properly and promptly distributes the driving power to the left and right wheels when cornering, helping to get out of corners more dramatically. With this torque vectoring technology, the RN22e overcomes the physical limit of electric vehicles, which tend to understeer out of corners due to its weight, and makes driving performance more dynamic. In addition, when the twin clutch of the rear wheel is disconnected, inertia driving is possible, which increases efficiency. RN22e’s e-TVTC will continue to develop software in various driving environments in the future, increasing its completeness.
Thanks to E-GMP’s low center of gravity by placing the heavy front/rear electric motors and batteries on the bottom of the vehicle, it ideally distributes the front and rear weights. In addition, the E-GMP used WRC-inspired IDA (Integrated Drive Axle that combined the drive shaft and the wheel bearing) to reduce weight, increase lateral stiffness. Moreover, it uses a roll cage and a separate rear partition panel to enhance body rigidity and uses 3D printed aluminum parts achieved lighter weight. As a result, RN22e ultimately overcomes the physical limit of EVs and supports the cornering performance of RN22e.
One of the R&D objectives of the RN22e as a Rolling lab is to enhance its cooling and aerodynamic performance. As commonly known for the high-performance cars, the aerodynamics greatly affects driving stability, fuel efficiency, and noise. It is also important to properly control the heat generated by the internal combustion engine. Likewise, electric vehicles also need to shape the driving wind to their advantage and use air and coolant to manage the heat in the battery- especially for high-performance EV that pushes itself to the limits. RN22e’s EV specific cooling system is developed with know-hows Hyundai Motors has accumulated over years of motorsport with Veloster N ETCR and with RM20e, the previous electrified Rolling lab. RN22e will continue to update its aerodynamic performance data through motorsport.
In particular, the cooling design plays important role for RN22e to let the drivers enjoy longer track driving. Knowing that battery temperature hugely affects EV’s performance, the battery pre-conditioning function is housed in the RN22e to optimize battery condition before and after entering the track for maximum performance. It raises the battery temperature to the optimal level to maximize performance before entering the track and lowers the battery temperature after track driving to enable fast charging using E-GMP’s 800V high voltage system. As a result, the RN22e charges a 77.4 kWh battery from 10% to 80% in just 18 minutes. In addition, for more efficient battery thermal management, the electric motor and battery have independent cooling systems, and a wider front intake improves cooling performance.
Another key for RN22e’s consistent performance on the racetrack is the braking performance. In general, electric vehicles are heavier than internal combustion engines because of their heavy batteries, hence bigger inertia. If such a heavy vehicle suddenly brakes just before entering a corner, the load on the brake system increases due to the increased kinetic energy. Then, not only will it become difficult to mark the ideal record, but it could also cause brake fade, a sharp decrease in braking ability. To prevent this, the RN22e uses high-performance friction material pads used in the N model, 4-piston monobloc calipers, and 400mm hybrid discs. In addition, the N brand is developing a regen braking technology optimized for high-performance electric vehicles so that it can attack corners faster and more aggressively.
The RN22e is not only packed with technology that offers dynamic performance on the racetrack, but also makes everyday life enjoyable and exhilarating - like a sound system. Sound is an emotional domain that high-performance cars stimulate the driver’s emotions, but it is difficult for electric vehicles without engine and exhaust sounds to provide such sensibility. The N brand, which pursues the pure pleasure of driving, uses the N Sound Plus function in the RN22e so that drivers can enjoy the driving experience according to their taste and atmosphere. Currently, the RN22e has implemented a sound that embodies the emotion of a high-performance internal combustion engine, and the N e-shift function delivers a sense of shift that matches the sound of a high-performance car through vibration. The N Sound Plus will continuously be developed to suit the tastes of various drivers, and it is planned to provide a new driving experience in the mass-produced model.
In addition to the e-TVTC, another advanced technology the automaker is developing with the RN22e is the smart leveling suspension system. The goal is to enable both daily comfort and dynamic driving on the track by using the concept of air suspension, which is used to make a comfortable ride for luxury cars. It can lift the car body to prevent damage to the underside when passing ramps and speed bumps, which are often encountered in everyday life, and lowers the car body to improve aerodynamic performance by lowering the center of gravity on the track. It is being developed to provide performance suitable for various driving environments by adjusting not only the height but also the compression and rebound of the suspension.
These various new technologies featured by the RN22e are expected to be housed in the high-performance electrified N model to be released in 2023 after being tested and verified several times on the road. Of course, as the automaker has done so far, various new technologies such as driving performance, durability, and safety developed through this process may be used in general mass-produced models as well. Not all technologies researched and developed through the Rolling lab necessarily lead to mass production, but it is good just to imagine that the thrill of driving can continue in the future electric vehicle era. The N brand knows this better than anyone, and will never give up its efforts and passion for driving pleasure.
HMG Journal Operation Teamgroup@hyundai.com
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