DETROIT -- General Motors is dropping the innovative steer-by-wire steering system available on its full-sized pickups and SUVs at the end of the 2005 model year.
Quadrasteer won't be offered on GM's new generation of pickups and SUVs due in 2006 as 2007 models. The technology, supplied by Delphi Corp., has been offered on the Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra trucks and numerous big SUVs, such as the GMC Denali and Chevrolet Suburban.
Quadrasteer shortened the turning radius of the trucks and made it easier to back up with a trailer hitched to the vehicle.
But GM has sold just 16,500 vehicles equipped with Quadrasteer since the system became available in 2002. GM negotiated exclusive use of the technology from Delphi.
An industry analyst who tracks suppliers and technology says the Quadrasteer system was excellent technology that worked well. But it faced several hurdles:
With Quadrasteer, the rear wheels turned up to 12 degrees in the opposite direction of the front wheels, enabling a full-sized heavy duty Silverado or Sierra to turn a corner in a tight 36.5 feet, a radius that is best on the market. The Nissan Titan makes a turn in 45 feet while the Toyota Tundra can turn a circle in just over 44 feet.
Such maneuverability makes it easier for a driver to tow a trailer or boat or park in tight spaces. It also improves high speed cornering by keeping the vehicle more stable.
A salesman at Huffines Chevrolet in Lewisville, Texas, near Dallas, said few customers asked about Quadrasteer, that it was a hard truck to sell and that it wouldn't be missed. He said it catered to too narrow a buyer, such as those who tow trailers.
Delphi spokeswoman Carrie Wright said the technology is not dead and other automakers have expressed interest in the system. But no contracts have been signed.
Wright said Quadrasteer can be adapted for use on cars.
"We are still very passionate about Quadrasteer," Wright said. "Part of the reason is extreme consumer enthusiasm. They're enthusiasm keeps ours high. We are pretty optimistic about long term future of it."
GM isn't the first automaker to fail with a four-wheel steering system.
From the 1988-94, Honda offered four-wheel steering on the Prelude coupe, but it did not sell well. And in 1990, Mazda offered a similar system on the 626. It also didn't catch on.
Chevrolet spokesman Mike Stoller says the division did promote Quadrasteer in a variety of ways. He said a Chevrolet survey last year asked potential truck buyers if they knew about Quadrasteer.
Stoller said, "It showed that 78 percent of full-size truck buyers or intenders knew what it was and just didn't want to buy it."
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