Rivian u-turns on Tank Turn, raising questions about environmental impact of heavy off-road EVs
Rivian's CEO RJ Scaringe recently hosted a Q&A on Instagram (via YouTube) wherein he confirmed that the long-awaited Tank Turn feature would no longer be coming to the marque's quad-motor R1T. The reason being the axing of the feature is that it could cause too much damage to the trails and the surrounding environment if abused, which is something that the company couldn't support.
Much of the marketing behind the Rivian R1T revolves around just how capable the electric vehicle is off-road thanks to its quad-motor drivetrain. Rivian, for its part, has also put a lot of effort into creating awareness about the damage off-roading can cause. Rivian went as far as partnering with Tread Lightly! to promote environmental stewardship.
Responses to the rationale behind the cancellation are mixed, with some comments on a Reddit thread pointing out that the Tank Turn feature seems to be more a gimmick than anything else. Others echoed Scaringe, arguing that the feature may give Rivian and electric vehicles a bad name if videos surfaced of R1T drivers creating havoc on a trail. Comments on other reporting of the cancellation were eager to point out that it would be a useful feature in certain off-road situations, and that the cancellation doesn't make sense given the weight of the Rivian is already bound to cause ruts and trail damage.
Criticism of the weight of the Rivian R1T seems to have some validity, considering the vehicle weighs in at a whopping 7,173 lbs without cargo or passengers. For comparison, a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited tops out at around 4,300 lbs, meaning the Rivian is likely going to cause more damage to a trail than a similarly-capable Jeep in terms of ruts. That said, a Rivian is unlikely to ever leak oil or flammable liquids into its surroundings — oil and gasoline pollution is arguably a more important concern than excessive rutting.