How GM Could've Revolutionized the Auto Industry With Quadrasteer... But Didn't
In the early 2000s, GM cooked up something the American automobile industry had never seen before: Quadrasteer. The word Quadrasteer may seem foreign to you, but if you break it up into “quad” and “steer”, you may figure that it means a four-wheel steering system.
How It Works
Quadrasteer enabled the front wheels and the back wheels to turn. At low speeds, the front wheels would turn in the same direction as the steering wheel, and the back wheels would turn in the opposite direction. At high speeds, all four wheels would turn in the same direction as the steering wheel, making lane changes smoother.
Pay close attention to the way the rear wheels are turned. Cool, huh? Photo credit: Denaliano
Quadrasteer was a great for pickup and large SUV drivers navigating city roads and/or towing heavy loads at low speed. The brilliant system turned those gigantic vehicles into compact cars every time they had to turn a corner.
At first, GM designed Quadrasteer just for its full-sized pickup trucks. They eventually decided to grace their larger SUVs with it as well. GM kicked off 2002 by offering consumers the option to add Quadrasteer to the following pickup and SUV models:
- Chevy Silverado
- GMC Sierra
- 2500 Suburban
- GMC Yukon XL
What a time to be alive!
Oh, wait. Nevermind. GM discontinued it back in ’05. Yes, that amazing beyond-our-time innovation is a thing of the past.
You might be asking: what on earth went wrong?
We can answer that.
Two Things That Killed Quadrasteer
GM quietly scrapped Quadrasteer when its pickups and SUVs underwent a redesign in the mid-2000s. Behind the decision were two reasons:
1. The Price
When GM first rolled out Quadrasteer in 2002, they had it priced at $5,600. Many consumers found it too expensive to justify the convenience. GM dropped the price to just under $4,500 the following year, but the majority of their target market still refused to bite. Finally, GM slashed the price to $1,995 in 2004. It was too late, though, because the general interest in Quadrasteer had already waned.
2. The Extra-Wide Rear Track
In order for the rear wheels to turn, the rear axle had to be 3.5 inches wider than the front axle. It gave the vehicle a “dually truck appearance”. Because of that, the vehicles with Quadrasteer added on were treated as heavy-duty pickups, meaning they couldn’t do normal car things like fit through most automated car washes. Some consumers didn’t like that.
If Only GM Had Waited a Little Longer…
After GM killed Quadrasteer, it came out that Delphi, the auto technology company behind the design of the four-wheel steering system, was nearly finished with their latest design of Quadrasteer. The new design solved both problems that led to the demise of Quadrasteer. The extra-wide rear track would no longer exist, and the new design would’ve allowed GM to sell Quadrasteer at an even more inexpensive price.
GM confirmed that they have no plans to bring it back anytime soon.
It’s a shame, because Quadrasteer could’ve revolutionized the large pickup truck and SUV market under the right circumstances.
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