Following widespread criticism of its controversial “yoke” butterfly steering wheel, Tesla is now offering a circular steering wheel option for its Model S and Model X vehicles. Starting in March, Tesla owners can replace their current steering wheels for $700. While this is a win for Tesla users who prefer less futuristic technology and more traditional aesthetics in their vehicles, Tesla is not adding another feature that some have requested: a stalk.
The yoke wheel, unlike a standard wheel, is rectangular and has a little button for honking. The stalk, which controls essential functions such as turn signals, headlights, and windscreen wipers in conventional cars, was replaced by buttons on the steering yoke.
The adoption of a steering yoke was controversial since it was more difficult to utilize during low-speed maneuvers than a typical wheel design. The yoke has a traditional wheel steering ratio that necessitates several low-speed turns for parking, multipoint turns, and around-town driving, and there is no top rim to hold to make turning easier. On the other hand, it looks nice and functions well at higher speeds with minimal steering inputs. According to Tesla, these vehicles will someday drive you around (we’re not going to debate the benefits of full self-driving here).
Tesla CEO Elon Musk justified the redesign in a tweet, saying “Yet another wheel is boring and blocks the screen.” “FSD in panoramic mode looks way better with a yoke.” Musk also rejected requests from customers to include a rounded wheel option for the Model S and Model X in 2021.
While this decision has now been walked back, images of the rounded wheel option on the Tesla site don’t appear to show any control stalks returning with it. Instead, there are buttons on the wheel similar to those that appear on the yoke.