The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has given an updated statement regarding Tesla’s new Yoke Steering Wheel, which comes as an option with the refreshed Model S and Model X.
The NHTSA told Teslarati this morning:
“NHTSA is aware of the recently launched Tesla steering yoke in certain Model S vehicles. We requested and received information from Tesla about the steering yoke and we remain actively engaged with the company during our review. NHTSA routinely engages with auto manufacturers and suppliers to better understand the new technologies and features they develop and introduce to the U.S. fleet.”
Since early February, the NHTSA has been actively reviewing the Yoke Steering Wheel when the agency indicated that it “cannot determine if the steering wheel meets Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. We will be reaching out to the automaker for more information.” Since then, Tesla has been communicating with the NHTSA to determine whether the Yoke lines up with its safety standards.
Any car or equipment used with a vehicle that will operate on U.S. roads must comply with the NHTSA’s FMVSS, or Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Tesla and any other car company has the right and ability to determine internally whether a vehicle or piece of vehicle equipment is compliant with the FMVSS, and can use any means necessary to determine this. Manufacturers can use testing procedures, engineering analytics, or standard testing procedures to determine whether a vehicle or piece of equipment meets the NHTSA’s FMVSS standards. Ultimately, the NHTSA gets the final say, and if a vehicle or piece of equipment is in violation of any of the FMVSS regulations, the agency has the ability to act if it sees a reason to believe that it is noncompliant or has the possibility of causing a safety-related defect.
The NHTSA’s FMVSS regulations are available here.
Tesla unveiled its Yoke steering wheel on January 27th, 2021, during the release of its Q4 2020 Earnings Call Update Letter, when the manufacturer revealed updated pictures of the refreshed Model S interior. Along with several other updates, the most notable and arguably the most talked about feature was the addition of a Yoke steering wheel, giving the Model S an even more sporty interior. First glimpses of the Yoke steering wheel were uncovered this past weekend by The Kilowatts, which showed the newly-designed wheel within a Model S interior.
It has been speculated whether Tesla would be able to keep the Yoke design within its Model S and Model X vehicles. As of now, it appears the NHTSA is still communicating with Tesla, but the Yoke has not given the NHTSA an indication that Tesla has committed any noncompliance or safety-related defects with the new steering wheel design.