Tesla Doubles Down On Its Bizzare Yoke Steering

Industry News / Comments

No, you cannot get a traditional wheel.

With the release of the Tesla Model S Plaid and the facelifted Model S, Musk's company has literally tried to reinvent the wheel. Instead of a traditional round steering wheel, the Model S now features a yoke, similar to an airplane or a concept car. After spotting a prototype with a traditional wheel, many Tesla enthusiasts seemed convinced the company would offer a traditional alternative for buyers who don't like the yoke. CEO Elon Musk has quashed those hopes.

When asked on Twitter if the Model S would receive a normal steering wheel, Musk responded simply, "no." This quick dismissal came in a thread on a recently posted Model S Plaid review by tech personality Marques Brownlee, who had some fair criticism of the yoke.

2021 Tesla Model S Plaid Central Console Tesla
2021 Tesla Model S Plaid Central Control Panel Tesla

In the video (linked above), Brownlee talks about muscle memory and how the yoke makes it difficult to unlearn decades worth of experience for many drivers. His criticism focuses less on the yoke itself, but more on the touch controls located on it. While executing a turn, it's common to accidentally activate the windshield wipers, turn signals, headlights, or horn. Not only does this sound rather annoying, but its potentially dangerous or even illegal.

Beyond the steering yoke, Tesla also made the decision to delete all physical stalks, including the gear selector. Instead of a traditional shifter, you now shift the car from drive to reverse using a narrow zone on the touchscreen. There are touch-sensitive backups on the lower center console, but they are a bit laggy according to Brownlee. A third "auto shift" option is currently in beta, automatically sensing if it should be in drive or reverse. This system only works from a stop, for now, remembering which way you pulled into a parking spot.

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Rather than directly address Brownlee's concerns by offering a traditional wheel, Musk doubled down on the yoke. "Good review and fair critique," he tweeted. "In general, with interfaces, all input is error. With each software update, the car's intuition will get better. You will need to press buttons less and less, and it will know when to ignore accidental button presses."

In our honest opinion, there was nothing wrong with a steering wheel. There's literally an expression called "reinventing the wheel" to describe this exact situation. The expression points out there is no reason to create a duplicate method that is already perfected. Though the yoke may improve over time, we still think it was unnecessary.

2021 Tesla Model S Plaid Driving Front Angle Tesla
2021 Tesla Model S Plaid Rear View Driving Tesla
2021 Tesla Model S Plaid Front View Driving Tesla

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2021 Tesla Model S Plaid Central Console
2021 Tesla Model S Plaid Central Control Panel
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