Rear-wheel-drive is making a comeback.
This year Volvo announced it would reverse a company policy and produce rear-wheel-drive (RWD) cars for the first time in 25 years. Volvo’s policy was that front-wheel-drive (FWD) cars are safer because they typically do a better job handling snow and ice, due to the weight of the engine sitting over the front wheels. RWD cars often have better handling and maneuverability – and the fun of your rear end drifting when you slam the accelerator – but for Volvo safety is always paramount, so FWD became the standard. Most other OEMs felt the same way.
But with electric cars on the ascent, OEM’s like Volvo and its sibling Polestar are re-thinking that notion. The battery packs in EVs are usually spread out across the car’s frame, so weight distribution is much more even than in an ICE vehicle. Plus you have traction control systems now which can mitigate any negative RWD effects. Moving the propulsion system to the rear can help make the car more agile and fun to drive, and even increase horsepower and torque. For example, the RWD Polestar 2 increases HP by 67, and torque by 117 pound-feet. And the 0 to 62 mph time was reduced by 1.2 seconds.
Besides needing to change a mindset, most EVs have started out as FWD because they share platforms with existing models (e.g., a Volvo XC40). But as new EV models are designed from the ground up, the benefits of increased performance, traction and stability will most likely lead to more RWD EVs.
Instant acceleration and amazing torque make EVs fun to drive. Adding in RWD will only up the fun factor.