Tesla is really betting on the yoke steering wheel, which is making some nervous with the Cybertruck and Roadster prototypes also featuring a similar wheel.
Elon Musk says that progressive steering, which would fix some of the steering wheel’s issues, is still a few years away.
When Tesla unveiled the new Model S with the “Yoke” butterfly steering wheel, it was controversial.
Knowing that Tesla has been developing a steer-by-wire system, we thought that the automaker wouldn’t risk bringing the controversial yoke steering wheel to market without a non-linear steering curve enabled by a steer-by-wire system.
However, as Tesla started deliveries of the new Model S Plaid last week, we were surprised to see that the wheel had a normal 14.0:1 steering ratio, and it is proving to be impractical at lower speeds:
I love the look of the new Tesla steering wheel. I agree it's great for visibility, but I'm shocked that Tesla implemented this without a dynamic intelligent non-linear steering curve to reduce turning movement.https://t.co/b6SCnE1w61
— Fred Lambert (@FredericLambert) June 15, 2021
There are even some driving scenarios where the butterfly not only becomes impractical but even potentially dangerous.
For example, if you lose control on an icy road, it could be harder to do some quick maneuvers to regain control.
Commenting on the new wheel, CEO Elon Musk said that “it’s great,” and he confirmed that a progressive steering curve wouldn’t come for at least a few years:
“I’ve been driving with the yoke for a while and it’s great in my opinion. Progressive steering would require complex gearing or drive-by-wire without direct mechanical link. Will aim for that in a few years.”
It sounds like Tesla’s new steer-by-wire system won’t be ready for a few years, and therefore, you can expect only incremental improvements in the steering system until then.
Musk also didn’t answer the question about Tesla offering a round steering wheel as an option despite the product existing since it has been spotted on prototypes leading to the launch of the Model S Plaid.
What about Cybertruck and Roadster?
This is making some people nervous because it’s not just about the new Model S.
If Musk likes the new steering wheel, and Tesla had also unveiled a yoke-style steering wheel on the Cybertruck and Roadster prototypes, this is likely going to be the automaker’s future.
The current steering systems would have the same problems with the Cybertruck and Roadster on top of additional ones, especially for the Cybertruck.
You can expect the same problems at low speeds and for parking situations to be amplified for the Cybertruck while towing and parking while towing.
I am really torn about it because I think it looks awesome, and it definitely looks like a better solution at high speed.
But the question is: Is it worth the disadvantages at low speeds?
The crazy thing to me is you can make everyone happy here by simply offering a round steering wheel option, and then people can answer that question of themselves.
If Tesla doesn’t end up doing it, I am hearing that some aftermarket accessory makers are already working on it.
That said, I am still surprised that Tesla decided to pull the trigger here without a progressive steering solution.