Rivian’s electric truck can do 360-degree ‘tank turns’

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The Rivian R1T
Image: Rivian

Electric vehicle startup, Rivian, released an exciting teaser video on Christmas. The footage shows one of Rivian’s electric pickup truck models performing 360-degree “tank turns” in place without moving laterally in any direction. Although Rivian has teased the feature in the past, the company had yet to provide video evidence of such a feat. 

Both the R1S and R1T models come equipped with a quad-motor configuration, which means that each wheel can turn independently. The configuration provides traction benefits for off-road and on-road driving. On the downside, tank turning requires a certain degree of “slippery-ness” to work properly.

What the Video Shows

In the (now) viral video, we see the Rivian driver pull into a muddy field from off-screen. He stops, rolls forward slightly, and then begins spinning in place as a military tank could on the battlefield. We also get several seconds of sweet ultra slo-mo footage that reveals how the truck’s tires make the magic happen. 

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For the clockwise turn, both tires on the left side of the car drive forward, while both tires on the right side spin backward. Though you might expect to see a little lateral sliding, it appears as though the truck creates a ring no longer than the length of the vehicle.

Tank turning isn’t just a sales gimmick for potential buyers. The R1S and R1T models are being marketed as “adventure trucks” that can navigate tough road conditions with unparalleled ease. With its narrow turn radius, Rivian drivers will be able to reorient their vehicles to avoid certain obstacles and turn on a dime when needed.

Rivian Gearing Up for the 2020s

Rivian has been making headlines recently thanks to several big-time investments from prominent auto manufacturers. Back in April, Ford reported it was paying Rivian $500 million to develop a new electric vehicle platform. Amazon led a $700 million fundraising round and ordered 100,000 delivery vans from the startup in September to be delivered over the next decade.

Where other electric vehicle manufacturers have stumbled, Rivian has risen. Without shipping a single product, the company landed billions of dollars in investor capital with its impressive leadership team and visionary concepts. 

Rivian plans to use the funding to get vehicles into production before the end of next year. Doing so will put the startup directly head-to-head with Tesla and other leading electric vehicle manufacturers in the 2020s.

The Decade of Electric Vehicles?

Companies like Rivian and Tesla are hoping that Americans get more excited about electric vehicles in the coming decade. The technology and charging infrastructure has improved significantly, yet electric cars still only make up a small proportion of all car sales. In 2017, a little over 1 percent of car purchases were for electric vehicles. 

However, things are trending upwards. Last year, consumers bought more than 360,000 electric vehicles, pushing lifetime electric sales over 1 million. Sales slumped in 2019, but there is still hope for the 2020s as more and more new electric models come to market. Rivian may be a big part of that story.

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