Tesla exec explains Model S and Model X round steering wheel option

Credit: Tesla

Recently, Tesla caught a number of headlines after an update to the Model S and Model X’s configurator revealed that a round steering wheel was now available for the vehicle. It was a rare move for Tesla, considering that the steering yoke is something that CEO Elon Musk has been very firm about. 

In a way, Tesla’s decision to step back on the yoke and offer a traditional round steering wheel for the new Model S and Model X seemed like an update borne out of customer feedback. Even during the two flagship vehicles’ launch in Europe, after all, some feedback against the vehicles was still focused on the yoke and why it was unnecessary. 

As per recent comments from Tesla Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausen, it would appear that this might indeed be the case. While speaking with host Ryan McCaffrey at the Ride the Lightning podcast, the executive explained that if there was an obstacle to people loving the new Model S and Model X, then it would only make sense to remove that obstacle. 

“We had a car that people really loved. And if there was, if somebody loved the car but the yoke was in the way, we want to remove that obstacle,” the Tesla Chief designer said.

The executive’s statements ring true, though they also hint at the general reception of the new Model S and Model X’s steering yoke. Even among longtime Tesla owners, the new steering system has been polarizing, with some loving it and others criticizing it for being unnecessary. This was the case as well with the capacitive buttons on the yoke, which include functions such as the blinkers and the horn. 

Interestingly enough, Franz von Holzhausen also noted during the podcast that the Model 3 and Model Y would likely not get stalkless steering systems because Tesla has so far not seen a need or a demand to change the systems in the vehicle today. With this in mind, one has to wonder if there was really a need or demand to change the steering system in the Model S and Model X. 

Considering the age of the Model S and Model X, perhaps there was indeed a need to revamp their steering systems and other controls. The two vehicles, after all, still adopted Tesla’s classic interior and controls style prior to their refresh. That being said, one cannot help but wonder if Tesla may have stepped too far with the yoke and its capacitive buttons, as their learning curve and apparent flaws seem to be the result of the company valuing form over function. 

Listen to Franz von Holzhausen’s interview at the Ride the Lightning podcast below.

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Tesla exec explains Model S and Model X round steering wheel option
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