Earlier this year, Ford-backed electric-truck company hopeful Rivian Automotive revealed one way it plans to challenge both other traditional automotive giants like General Motors (GM -2.67%) and newcomers like Tesla (TSLA 0.03%). The company's new R1T electric pickup truck and R1S electric SUV boast a newfangled "tank-mode" capability to spin wheels in opposite directions, fine-tuning a driver's control of the vehicle so that it can, literally, spin on a dime -- around and around and around, with no forward or reverse movement.
Nine months later, General Motors has prepared its rebuttal to Rivian's tank mode: the GMC Hummer "crab mode." The new Hummer is also expected to be the first GM vehicle equipped with the automaker's new Ultium "million-mile" battery system. (A million miles, by the way, refers to the battery's lifespan -- not the vehicle's range).
But as revealed in a new video on its website, GM's new Hummer electric vehicle will also feature a "four-wheel steering capability, allowing it to move in a diagonal direction," somewhat like a crab walking sideways, "functionality that is tailor-made for off-roading customers."
For the record, Rivian, too, describes its tank-mode capability as something especially attractive to off-roaders. But more practically speaking, the ability to more precisely direct the movement of a vehicle through counter-rotating and simultaneously tracking wheels also seems ideally suited to make parallel parking a breeze and broaden the vehicles' appeal to a wider car-buying market.
R1T and R1S will be Rivian's first-ever commercial vehicles. GM, which has been producing all-electric Bolts for years, will finally be expanding into the electric pickup truck segment with its GMC Hummer. The company plans to officially "reveal" the new vehicle on October 20 and then bring it to market a year later.