Torque Steer
Sam Gearhart

Torque Steer

Torque Steer is a test bed for exploring a theory that manually controlling left and right power output separately can add a sense of mastery to driving an electric vehicle.

This gives the driver control of the driving experience in a way that has only ever been done by computers in recent years. Reintroducing the human element back into the vehicle.

The Test Bed

A balance was struck between a full scale vehicle and a small scale experiment where drivers had to feel their inputs and the vehicles outputs. This led to a go-kart scale vehicle which also will lower the intimidation of driving and increase the feeling of speed while keeping speeds lower.

Electric. It is important that the solution involves an electric drivetrain as it is currently looked at as a numb driving experience by driving enthusiasts.

New Element of Control. The vehicle needs to involve a control that, when ideally manipulated, changes the vehicles performance as desired by the driver.

Intuitive. The dynamic of control, while hard to perfect, should be easy to understand as to not prevent potential users from trying it.

Fit an Adult. Users will be of driving age so it is important that the form fits a wide variety of adults.

Safe”. The vehicle needs to be mechanically safe for the aspects of the vehicle to be enjoyed and fairly evaluated.

The Theory

By controlling the left and right side power separately, a sense of mastery can be reintroduced into the driving experience.

A positive driving experience for enthusiasts can be summarized by two emotions: “joyful anxiety” and mastery.

While “joyful anxiety” is caused by speed, acceleration and lateral G-forces. That is possible in both internal combustion engine powered vehicles as well as electric vehicles. A sense of mastery is something that is often considered to be based around the operation of a manual transmission that is no longer neccesary in electric vehicles.

This driver controlled torque vectoring allows drivers to manipulate the amount of turn-in that the vehicle has, allowing the driver to make the decision on how they would like the vehicle to handle.


Driving enthusiasts do not only want a fast car, they want something that they can learn and conquer. This usually was where manual transmissions fit into the discussion, but with the upward trend of more electric vehicles as well as the push for higher efficiency, the manual transmission is becoming obsolete. The electric vehicle needs to include a sense of mastery.

Because overcoming challenge and being in control is a key part of the experience.

The Build

Experiences are experienced and require interaction for validation.

Before starting this project I knew that I had one requirement for myself: to make a real thing, a thing people could touch. Through setting this goal, I have pushed myself to learn more than I ever expected about so many different things.

I welcome you to check out the building of the kart on Esk8.News to gain further insight on how I discovered problems and worked through them.

“I get by with a little help from my friends.”

There is no way that me, or this project would be where it is at without your help and support. Thank you.

Sam Gearhart

I am a six year Air Force veteran and a watercooled Volkswagen aficionado who loves to make stuff and tinker. I am originally from rural Pennsylvania but now live in the Philadelphia suburb of Glenside, PA. My design experience includes product design, material exploration and fabrication, digital design tools, wearable technology, sculpture, graphic design and design research. Overcoming challenges no matter the circumstances and seeing an idea come to life without sacrificing the vision is what I work for.

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