Elon Musk has ruled out a normal steering wheel for the refreshed Model S and Model X electric models, despite changes to button and horn locations drawing criticism.
With the refreshed tri-motor Plaid Model S now out in the wild after its June launch, reviews are starting to roll in.
And while it is the Plaid Model S acceleration that has been high on the list of review agendas, so has the “yoke” steering wheel. And although not everyone is in love with it, Musk says it is here to stay.
The revelation came in response to a Twitter follower on Friday (Australia time) who asked if a standard steering wheel would be an option for the new Tesla Model S, which has had an interior refresh, some mild exterior design updates and most importantly, is now available in a Plaid version with three motors.
“No,” Musk summarily returned.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 23, 2021
The answer came in response to a recent review of the Tesla Model S Plaid by Youtuber Marques Brownlee in which he told his 14+ million subscribers that he thinks the touch buttons and location of the horn on the yoke could have been better thought through.
“Well, there is only one thing really about the new model S and X and that’s the steering wheel, or the yoke,” said Brownlee.
“It’s got a bunch of touch sensitive buttons on it instead of the traditional stocks, you know for blinkers or windshield wipers and headlights – that is all moved to touch buttons.”
“Basically the number one thing I started to realise is this is bad, like this is going to take some serious recalibration and there’s so much muscle memory involved here,” he said.
He clarifies it is not the yoke itself: “It’s the touch buttons on the yoke that amplify the relearning of everything.”
Tesla boss Musk said he thinks it is a “Good review & fair critique,” adding that the vehicle learns from the drivers and as time goes on it would be better at predicting whether or not a button was swiped accidentally.
“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 & less & it will know when to ignore accidental button presses,” he said.
he went on to defend the yoke and the fact it makes the screen behind it easier to see.
“Also, the full self-driving interface renders across the whole display & it is incredible. The yoke enables an unobstructed view of the screen,” he said.
Also, the full self-driving interface renders across the whole display & it is incredible. The yoke enables an unobstructed view of the screen.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 23, 2021
But although Brownlee thinks the screen visibility is a “nice to have” side effect of the yoke steering wheel design, the other changes in location of controls is just too much. But he has a suggestion of how to improve it.
“If you’re going to reinvent the wheel … it’s the only input people have into the car so you wanted to hopefully only adjust small things at a time,” he said.
“This is just a lot to change and I really think actual clicking the buttons would have made a huge difference here,” he says.
Even so, the location of the horn which now requires reaching over the wheel to press is still a big issue for him.
“Also the horn – maybe I’m missing something but couldn’t they have stuck with a regular horn, because imagine you’re driving, somebody cut you off or is like about to do something done right in front of you, you just have like this reaction to just hit the horn and that’s where the air bags are and that’s where they’ve always been but now you have to reach over,” he says.
“I don’t know if that is the move I would have made.”
You can see the entire review by Brownlees here:
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.