October 3, 2023

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Rivian nixes ‘Tank Turn’ feature for environmental reasons

The fun seems has ended before it even started, with the EV manufacturer explaining that while it can make it happen, it won’t

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One of the great things about rapidly advancing technology is the ability to deploy solutions in situations for which they were never originally intended. A great example? The ability of multiple electric motors in an EV to creatively manipulate the direction of a vehicle, such as Rivian’s too-cool “Tank Turn” ability, which the automaker showed off way back in 2019.

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If you’ve forgotten, the so-called Rivian Tank Turn is a feature which could apply power in opposite directions to wheels on the right and left side of the truck, permitting the thing to essentially turn around in not much more than the length of itself — like when a military tank powers each of its treads in opposite directions in order to make a tight turn, hence the name.

Sadly, according to the CEO of Rivian himself, the company appears to be sunsetting the idea.

That’s the word from RJ Scaringe, the founder of Rivian, who was holding court during an Instagram Q&A session last week. While he remained upbeat about the technology, it was explained that these boxy off-road EVs are unlikely to ever receive the capabilities, citing environmental concerns and the need to “tread lightly” whilst off-roading. His argument is essentially that the Tank Turn, while cool, can tear up trails, leave ruts, and generally disturb nature, which goes against the company’s philosophy.

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Those noises you just heard was this writer rolling his eyes so far back in his head that they need to be surgically returned to their proper place.

Look, as a diehard off-roader, I completely understand and appreciate the need to leave no trace while wheeling and ensuring all hands pack out every item they carry with them into the great outdoors. But suggesting the Tank Turn, a feature which would be restricted to the limited-run quad-motor variants of an already rare vehicle, will wreak untold amounts of environmental havoc is laughable. More likely, a cadre of spineless and bedwetting lawyers snuffed out this awesome feature (though Scaringe hasn’t publicly blamed them) on the grounds of some far-fetched or statistically improbable legal scenario. Killjoys.

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In the full 2022 calendar year, Rivian says it produced 24,337 vehicles and delivered 20,332 machines. It’s on pace to blow that number out of the water this annum, claiming to have produced 9,395 vehicles at its manufacturing facility in Normal, Illinois while delivering 7,946 of its SUVs and trucks though the first quarter of 2023. For comparison, Ford sold 4,291 F-150 Lightning pickups in the same timeframe.

It’s probably safe to say Tank Turn also won’t be showing up in Rivian’s upcoming R2 line, which Scaringe teased during the same Q&A session. The Jeep-Grand-Cherokee-sized EV showed up under a sheet during the presentation, presumably in clay model form, since it’s still a few years away from its 2026 launch. We still don’t know a whole lot about the model, except it’ll be aiming for a much lower price-point than the flagship R1T and R1S, with a lot fewer features.

Get more details on the Rivian R1T via our online comparison tool.

Matthew Guy picture

Matthew Guy

Whether wheeling an off-road rig over rough terrain, hauling trailers with a pickup truck, or tucking into a sportscar, Matthew is never far from something with four wheels and an engine. He’s a member of AJAC and lives in rural Nova Scotia. Find him on Facebook and Instagram @DudeDrivesCars


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