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Rivian came out of the gates of obscurity to the main stage in a flash. In 2019, the company dropped a video of the Rivian R1T busting the craziest donuts anyone’s ever seen. Today, Rivian is a real company selling real trucks. It was the first company to release an all-electric pickup truck. Rivian has hit a great many milestones. However, the trucks don’t bust the tight circles from that video back in 2019. What happened to Rivian’s Tank Turn, the coolest feature of the Rivian truck? 


Does the Rivian R1T have Tank Turn? 

Road & Track reports that the CEO of Rivian, RJ Scaringe, cut the tank turn feature because it would cause too much damage to loose surfaces out in nature. Scaringe recently did a Q&A session for Instagram where he explained that causing more environmental damage for a gimmicky feature isn’t in line with the company’s mission to be environmentally friendly. There is also the effect the feature would have on the trails. Rivian also shares a concern voiced by MotorTrend that drivers might struggle with how to use turns at speed. 

How does Tank Turn work? 

Peter Corn driving a tank in Monticello, NY
Peter Corn driving a tank | MotorBiscuit: Peter Corn

I drove a tank once, and while the steering is simple enough to understand, it can take a little while to get the hang of it. Tanks have two tracks. Each track is controlled by a lever that controls the throttle for the coinciding track. There is no steering wheel, linkage, fixed axle, or anything we are used for steering. In order to turn a tank, you send power to the opposite track from the direction you want to go. If you want to bust a tight turn, you can reverse one set of tracks while the other goes forward. This causes what you see in the Rivian video: a zero-turn circle.   

The video makes the tank turn look so simple. We have grown accustomed to our cars doing all the hard work for us. Hell, most people can’t even shift gears or use the brakes anymore without a computer. 

Remember MotorTrend’s concern about customers being able to wrap their heads around the feature? Electrik has similar concerns, saying, “The maneuver is much more difficult when there isn’t a professional driver behind the wheel.”

What is the Rivian “Front Dig Mode?” 

Rivian played around with another, less destructive cleaver-turning feature called Front Dig Mode. The idea is similar to Tank Turn, but instead of ripping crazy donuts, this version sends power to the front wheels while the rear inside wheel is blocked, giving the Rivian R1T a point to turn on. This feature is not on any vehicles yet and might still be too destructive to be viable. 

Can you buy a Rivian pickup truck?

Sure, the Rivian R1T had a lot of lofty goals, some of which haven’t made it to the production vehicles. However, Rivian did get its truck into buyers’ driveways before any other companies. Rivian seems to care deeply about its goals and its customers. Pulling this very hyped feature because it goes against the brand’s ethos is respectable. Maybe Tank Turn can make its way back at some point. Until then, we’ll enjoy all of the other Rivian features.