MIT startup Indigo Tech launches electric van concepts at CES

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Indigo Technologies debuted at CES by showcasing an electric van-type car in two versions. The Indigo Flow is designed for carpooling, while the Indigo Flow Plus serves as a delivery van. Executives from Audi and Porsche are also on board.

For both cars, the startup is emphasizing what it calls robotic wheels, which each contain a 22 kW electric motor. They also combine the drivetrain and active suspension in one module with the drivetrain. Active suspension, in particular, is intended to overcome the well-known drawback of wheel hub motors, namely the higher unsprung masses.

With four “robotic wheels”, the power of the system would be 88 kW. According to Indigo, the Flow and Flow Plus are expected to have a range of over 250 miles (400 kilometers) with a 40 kWh battery.

While Indigo CEO Will Graylin claimed the company “invented robotic wheels,” the concept is similar to the architecture of Israeli startup Ree Automotive. In either case, placing motors and electronics inside the wheels (or in the corners) allows for a flat platform that helps increase interior space relative to the vehicle’s footprint. . In the Indigo Flow and the larger Flow Plus, the overhangs are short and the wheels are placed in the corners of the vehicle.

Additionally, Indigo opted for a center driving position, thereby placing the driver’s floor where a center axle motor would otherwise sit. As this installation space is free thanks to the wheel hub motors, the driver can be placed further forward, leaving more room at the rear.

In the Flow carpooling model, there is a bench seat with three seats behind the driver and two individual seats behind the driver. The five passengers can enter and exit through sliding doors on both sides. The Flow Plus box body is designed from the ground up from the B-pillar; the company is not yet giving details on cargo space and payload.

These are also two more pure concepts: Indigo Technologies does not provide any information on planned production or a timeline for further development until preparation for mass production in the announcement. In August, the Massachusetts-based company introduced a smaller three-wheeled electric model that uses robotic wheels.

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At CES, the startup also announced three important nominations. First, Volker Kaese, who, as the former head of innovation product management at Audi, was involved at the time in the Audi e-tron show car (which became the production model e -tron quattro), has been hired as CTO; Kaese also worked on the VW XL1 liter car. “I’m excited to have the biggest impact on the driver’s experience and the environment,” Kaese said in Vegas. “From the bulky interior to the sliding doors, Indigo Flow will allow drivers to be more efficient in their work. Ultimately, they will be able to earn more while doing good for our planet. “

Additionally, former Porsche designer Eric Obers (who also worked for Lucid ad interim) and Hugh Robinson joined Indigo as design manager for the Flow product line. Robinson was formerly employed by Porsche and General Motors.

Indigo Technologies was founded in 2010 by MIT professor Ian Hunter. In 2020, Will Graylin, a seasoned tech entrepreneur, was appointed CEO to lead the commercialization of electric vehicles.

Additional reporting by Sebastian Schaal.

insideevs.com, prnewswire.com, indigotech.com


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