April 27 (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) affiliate Hino Motors (7205.T) and Israeli startup Ree Automotive will jointly develop modular electric vehicles to transport people and goods, joining a growing number of partnerships in the still young, but fast-paced commercial EV sector.
Like Arrival and Rivian, Ree has developed a flexible electric skateboard that combines motor, batteries, steering, suspension and brakes into a flat chassis on which different vehicle configurations — among them vans and buses — can be built.
Ree has a twist: Each corner of the skateboard features a modular wheel/tire combination that also incorporates suspension and other chassis components.
Hino and Ree plan to jointly develop an electric commercial vehicle chassis that employs Ree's corner modules and features a detachable "mobility service module" that can function as a stand-alone unit. The partners plan to begin developing prototype vehicles in 2022.
Hino said the starting point for development is a concept called FlatFormer for a modular electric commercial vehicle, first displayed at the 2019 Tokyo auto show.
Ree said its skateboard can accommodate self-driving hardware. Earlier this month, Ree announced an agreement with Navya, a French maker of self-driving passenger shuttles, to jointly develop autonomous systems with Ree's modular chassis components.
In February, Ree said it would go public later this year in a reverse merger with blank-check acquisition company 10X Capital. Arrival went public in March in a similar deal. Rivian reportedly is considering an initial public offering later this year. read more
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