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Rivian R1T and R1S getting Tank Turn for the world's coolest donuts

Spin cycle: Forget that other electric truck, Rivian's forthcoming EVs will feature trick opposite-phase drive tech allowing for insanely tight turns.

Rivian Tank Turn
Rivian

Never mind Elon's Tesla Cybertruck, the Rivian R1T pickup and R1S SUV are still very much on Roadshow's most anticipated new trucks list -- EV or otherwise. And if both all-electric vehicles weren't at the top of our must-drive list before, they might just be after this video detailing a killer new feature: Tank Turn. 

We've heard rumblings about this tech for some time now, but the electric-truck startup has now confirmed that its four-motor setup will allow for what could be the best vehicular donuts this side of a Monster Jam monster truck. With four motors that can be independently powered in different directions simultaneously, opposite-phase drive is possible. Translation? You can have one side of the vehicle's wheels powered in one direction, while the other side's wheels go in the opposite direction, resulting in the ability to pivot within the vehicle's wheelbase: just like the tracks on a tank. Such a feat would be very difficult and likely very costly to engineer on a conventional internal-combustion-powered truck with differentials. 

As you can see from this video, you'll probably need to execute such maneuvers on dirt or gravel to avoid excessive driveline stress, but this new Rivian feature could be more than just a killer party trick -- Tank Turn figures to be a boon on tight trails where you're hemmed in by trees and rocks. Rivian has stated that off-road ability is a priority for its electric trucks from Day One, and this could be a unique way to make good on that promise.

It's not clear how this feature is activated -- it seems unlikely that you summon Tank Turn just by cranking the steering wheel all the way in one direction. It's also not clear whether Tank Turn will be standard or optional. We likely won't know more until the Rivian R1T pickup and R1T SUV hit the market, which is expected to be in late 2020 or early 2021.

Rivian R1S
Enlarge Image
Rivian R1S

The R1S's Tank Turn feature will make it one unique SUV.

Rivian

In any case, Rivian appears to be headed into 2020 with a full head of steam. On Monday, it was revealed that the Plymouth, Michigan-based startup has raised a further $1.3 billion in funding, with repeat investors Amazon and Ford among them. Ford, you may recall, has already signed a $500 million deal with Rivian to employ the company's "skateboard" architecture to underpin a future electric Lincoln, and Amazon previously invested $700 million in the company in furtherance of a purpose-built all-electric delivery van, the latter of which is expected in 2021.

Will you see Amazon Prime vans hurriedly executing the world's coolest donuts at Christmastime in 2021? Probably not. Then again, if you live on a gravel or dirt road...

The Rivian R1T might be the electric pickup truck of tomorrow

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Chris Paukert Former executive editor / Cars
Following stints in TV news production and as a record company publicist, Chris spent most of his career in automotive publishing. Mentored by Automobile Magazine founder David E. Davis Jr., Paukert succeeded Davis as editor-in-chief of Winding Road, a pioneering e-mag, before serving as Autoblog's executive editor from 2008 to 2015. Chris is a Webby and Telly award-winning video producer and has served on the jury of the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards. He joined the CNET team in 2015, bringing a small cache of odd, underappreciated cars with him.
Chris Paukert
Following stints in TV news production and as a record company publicist, Chris spent most of his career in automotive publishing. Mentored by Automobile Magazine founder David E. Davis Jr., Paukert succeeded Davis as editor-in-chief of Winding Road, a pioneering e-mag, before serving as Autoblog's executive editor from 2008 to 2015. Chris is a Webby and Telly award-winning video producer and has served on the jury of the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards. He joined the CNET team in 2015, bringing a small cache of odd, underappreciated cars with him.

Article updated on December 25, 2019 at 9:06 AM PST

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skype-headshot
Chris Paukert Former executive editor / Cars
Following stints in TV news production and as a record company publicist, Chris spent most of his career in automotive publishing. Mentored by Automobile Magazine founder David E. Davis Jr., Paukert succeeded Davis as editor-in-chief of Winding Road, a pioneering e-mag, before serving as Autoblog's executive editor from 2008 to 2015. Chris is a Webby and Telly award-winning video producer and has served on the jury of the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards. He joined the CNET team in 2015, bringing a small cache of odd, underappreciated cars with him.
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