Found: The Lost Photos and History of Quadrasteer 3.0!
By: Mike Levine Posted: 08-18-08 02:30 PT
© 2008

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Proof that even the most innovative and useful ideas can fail to gain traction in the truck market is Quadrasteer four-wheel steering. It debuted in 2002 but was discontinued by 2005.

Developed by Delphi for General Motors, the system revolutionized trailer towing and low-speed maneuverability in full-size pickups and SUVs.

At high speeds, Quadrasteer allowed the rear wheels to turn slightly in the same direction as the front wheels, which greatly improved tracking with or without a trailer.

At low speeds, the four-wheel steering system enabled the rear wheels to crab 12 degrees in the opposite direction of the front wheels. This let the vehicle make tighter turns, such as when cornering or getting into a tight parking space. The turning diameter of some Quadrasteer-equipped models was reduced 21 percent, from 49.6 feet to 37.4 feet, about the same range as a small car.

Two shortcomings killed Quadrasteer. The first strike against it was price. Quadrasteer cost $5,600 when it was first offered. In 2003, the price dropped to $4,495 and finally to $1,995 for 2004, but the damage was done. Most truck buyers thought it was too expensive, regardless of its amazing capabilities.

The second shortcoming was Quadrasteer's extra-wide rear track. Engineering the rear-turning wheels required the rear axle to be 3.5-inches bigger than the front axle. This, in turn, required rear fender flares and marker lamps to meet federal lighting requirements for vehicles over a certain width, giving the truck dually-like looks. It also prevented Quadrasteer trucks from driving through most automated car washes because the wider rear track wouldn't fit inside the mechanized rollers that guide vehicles through the wash.

There were two iterations of Quadrasteer before its demise: Version 1.0 marked the start of production in 2002, and in late 2003 Quadrasteer 2.0 enhanced a truck's stability control system by factoring in the rear steering capability to help fight unstable conditions.

What didn't get attention, after it was discontinued, was that Delphi was very close to completing Quadrasteer 3.0, which would have solved the extra-wide rear track issue and helped reduce its price further.

In the pictures accompanying this story, you can see a 2005 GMC Sierra 1500 mule equipped with Quadrasteer 3.0. The rear wheels turned within the tight dimensions of a standard cargo box's fenders. This would have reduced manufacturing costs by eliminating the fender flares and side safety markers and would have enabled the truck to enter automatic car washes like other half-ton trucks.

Quadrasteer 3.0 would have debuted when GM's exclusive rights to the system were ending, potentially increasing Delphi's market penetration and sales volumes. Nissan was interested in the system for its full-size Titan pickup and Armada SUV, but one of the company's key requirements was a standard-width rear track. Like the GMC Sierra 1500 mule, a Titan Quadrasteer tester was built, but we don't have pictures of it.

In the end, though, things didn't turn out as planned for Delphi's four-wheel steering invention.

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