We start today’s Question of the Day with a lesson that doesn’t involve a vehicle you can buy. That vehicle is the General Dynamic Land Systems M1 Abrams battle tank. A development by Chrysler Defense just before Chrysler sold off the the subsidiary in 1982, the Abrams is a weighs in at over sixty tons, is powered by a Honeywell turbine engine, and has to move it’s twenty-six foot by twelve foot self around with ease. On tracks. In the hands of a competent tank driver and commander team, moving the Abrams is surprisingly graceful…at least, as graceful as a battle tank can possibly be. One of the best moves is the “neutral steer”, better known as a tank turn. Without moving forwards or backwards, the tank driver spins one track forward and the other backwards, turning the tank on the spot. Handy maneuver for a big-ass tank, isn’t it?
Now, will somebody please explain to me why Rivian and GMC are working on this as an option for their pickup trucks? Rivian, the upstart electric pickup/SUV manufacturer, uses motors on each wheel so the function is similar to the tank: one side rotates forwards, the other backwards. GMC’s rumored “Hurricane Turn” isn’t a perfect tank turn, but utilizes the stability control system and the brakes to make a Yukon whip around in a tight circle. All you have to do is deactivate stability control, crank the wheel all the way in the desired direction and boot the throttle. Hm…I used to do the same thing in a ’73 Mercury Comet. It was called a “donut”, or as my mother loved to say, “driving like an asshole”.
So, for today’s question: I don’t quite understand the why behind over ten years’ worth of adding useless and novel gadgets to vehicles. I get some things, like navigation, satellite radio, even adjustable suspensions. But getting your truck or pickup to do what a tank does? Make the call, readers…what will be the next big circus sideshow from the OEMs? I’ll read your responses while listening to Dope’s version of a Dead or Alive song. You know the words: “You spin me right ’round, baby, right round…”