GMC’s Hummer EV "Crabwalk" Sounds Dumb But Could Be Awesome
There’s nothing quite like it anywhere in the auto worldby Kirby Garlitos, on LISTEN 04:01
The return of the Hummer, even in EV form, has the truck world alight. The hype is real, folks, and the buzz is about to get even louder now that General Motors has unveiled one of the Hummer EV’s most unique features: the crab walk. No, this isn’t some kind of dance move that the Hummer EV is capable of doing; it’s actually a real feature that allows the hulking electric truck to move diagonally. Yes, diagonally. The crab walk is one of many new features that’s included in the Hummer EV. All of it is part of GMC’s strategy to reinvent the Hummer’s image from being one of the loudest and thirstiest gas-guzzlers in the land to a muted and electric whizzing truck that’s apparently capable of crab walking its way out of potential hazards.
What on earth is a crab walk, and how does it apply to cars?
For those who are unaware, crabs can only walk in one direction — sideways — because their legs are attached to the side of their bodies and their joints bend towards the sides. That aspect of a crab’s anatomy and physiology means that they can only walk sideways. Now that we’ve gotten that bit of trivia out of the way, it’s equally important to know that cars normally aren’t capable of “crab-walking” because the wheel axles can’t extend too far to the point that the wheels are able to turn 90 degrees. Four-wheel steering has existed for decades, but it hasn’t been used to the extent that GMC plans to with the new all-electric Hummer. We’ve seen this kind of capability in movies and TV shows, but the closest we have seen to a car driving diagonally in the real world was the Mercedes-Benz VISION AVTR, an Avatar-themed concept vehicle that Mercedes created with the help of Avatar director James Cameron.
Apart from these vehicles, we don’t know of a production model that has this kind of feature…until now.
Why is GMC offering this feature in the all-electric Hummer?
At this point, your guess is as good as mine. When automakers offered four-wheel-steering back in the 1990s, it was mostly offered to make cars safer at sudden direction changes, make them faster in corners, and, most importantly, make them easier to park. The feature didn’t catch on as some folks expected, but it has made a comeback in recent years with models like the Audi Q7, BMW 5 Series, and all Porsche and Ferrari models offering some form of four-wheel-steering or active rear-wheel steering. None of them, though, can do what the all-electric Hummer can apparently do.
GMC’s teaser video sums it up pretty clearly. It shows the Hummer’s rear tires turning at a fairly extreme angle, or at least an angle that they are not supposed to turn at. GMC has been careful to not reveal more details, particularly the specific angle of that four-wheel-steering setup.
How different is the EV Hummer’s Crab Walk from the Rivian’s Tank Turn?
Late last year, Rivian unveiled a cool party trick that will be featured in the R1T truck and the R1S SUV. It’s called “Tank Turn,” which is an ability that both Rivians could tap into to channel opposite-phase drive, allowing the electric truck and electric SUV to pivot within their respective wheelbases. This is made possible by having four motors that can be independently powered in different directions simultaneously. What this does is one side of the wheels turns in one direction and the other side turns in the opposite direction, causing the car to spin on its wheelbase similar to a spinning top.
It’s unclear if the Hummer’s Crab Walk feature is capable of something similar, but we do know that it can drive diagonally in a manner that we saw from the Mercedes-Benz VISION AVTR Concept. While it is exciting to think about all the possibilities and all the party tricks that GMC will drop in the Hummer EV, we’ll wait for the all-electric truck’s arrival before we start getting too excited about the potential of the returning nameplate.