In the electric truck wars, there are currently only two players; Tesla and Rivian. Oh sure, there are others, but none with the cred of these two companies. Or as much to lose. Neither has produced anything, but right now Rivian has the advantage because it has shown its hand.
In just a few days that won’t be the case as Tesla is ready to reveal its “Cyberpunk” pickup in a little over a week. Now, some are saying that without an electric motor at each wheel, as Rivian has done, none of Tesla’s specs and range and visuals will compare. That without the torque vectoring of four motors Rivian has won.
What Is Torque Vectoring?
So what is torque vectoring? Simply, it’s the ability for each wheel to have different amounts of torque applied to it. This makes for a much more stable and efficient transfer of power to maximize the efficiency of the powertrain.
Are off-road capability and handling more important than range and 0-60 times? Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe recently told Fully Charged what makes the Rivian so much more of a game-changer.
“It can do 0-60 in three seconds. But what makes the vehicle so unique is the way we’re able to control torque. Not just front to back but left to right, instantaneously coupled with the ability to adjust to the roll stiffness and damping frequency. You could have a vehicle that instantaneously goes from something that’s incredible off-road to something incredible on the road.”
What he’s not saying is that the increased handling and control from four motors varying the amount of power they put to the ground cannot be done with brake-based torque control. From what we know brake-based torque is what the Tesla pickup will be based upon.
Four Electric Motors = Instant Torque
With a motor at each corner, the power to the tire is instant. There is no lapse between the brake sending the torque to the axle. The axle is part of the motor, so the torque is instant.
There’s more to it than that. With electronic monitoring as the torque is doled out, it can be optimized so the wheel slip is very close to perfect for the ability of the tire to grip to its greatest ability, according to Rivian’s chief engineer Charles Sanderson talking to Fully Charged.
Another interesting point Sanderson made is that the way the torque vectoring makes the vehicle handle and feel makes it seem smaller than it really is. That happens because the agility is increased with the minute adjustments of torque applied to each wheel. Oversteer is greatly reduced, and traction control is improved.
The speculation about the Tesla pickup is that it will feature two or possibly three electric motors. Three motors would be considered radical based on what we know right now. But Rivian already has its four motor platform developed.
Is Rivian Just Full Of Hype?
So whether it’s Rivian hype that is fueling the rumors and speculation or not, the bar has been set high for the Tesla pickup. When all of the proclamations, announcements, and spewing of specifications clog the Tesla pickup reveal at the 2019 LA Auto Show, keep all of this tucked into the back of your mind.
These are the early days of electrification, but it brings to mind Ford versus Chevy, Mustang versus Camaro, big-block Chevy versus Hemi. It’s beginning to look like a dog fight for the mantle of electrified pickup truck supremacy.