Rivian made quite a splash with its viral video portraying one of its R1T electric pickups essentially turning on the spot, like a tank, by driving the wheels on one side forward, while the others are going in reverse. However, the feature is not currently present in its production vehicles, and Ford also patented its own version, possibly for use in the F-150 Lightning, and it may even debut before Rivian.

According to the Lightning Owners Forum, the Blue Oval applied for the patent in October of 2020, but it was just published on April 24, 2022. The patent drawing below shows what appears to be an F-150 Lightning but text makes no direct mention of that truck, so it could, in theory, be applied to other EV models. It describes

Methods, apparatus, systems and articles of manufacture are disclosed to perform a tank turn. An example vehicle includes a first wheel and a second wheel, the first wheel located on an end of a first axle, the second wheel located on an end of the second axle, the end of the first axle opposite to the end of the second axle, a first suspension coupled to the first wheel, a second suspension coupled to the second wheel, and a controller to drive the first axle in a first direction, drive the second axle in the second direction and decrease a first suspension load of the first suspension and a second suspension load of the second suspension.

It is worth noting, though, that unlike the Rivian R1T and R1S, the Ford F-150 Lightning doesn’t come with a quad-motor setup, with one motor driving each individual wheel. So far, Ford has only announced dual-motor versions, and in order for those to be able to perform a tank turn, the manufacturer will need to resort to reversing one side and not the other via gears, or just applying lock to all four wheels.

This is how Toyota wants to do it, at least, as per its patent filed in 2019. The Japanese giant’s system would not only allow for on-the-spot rotation around the vehicle’s center, but also lateral movement and driving at an angle (similar to the Crab Walk feature of the GMC Hummer EV).

So far no manufacturer has launched a series model that can perform a tank turn, and Rivian is the only company to have shown one of its vehicles actually do it. It should still be the first to debut this feature, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

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