Tesla appears to have finally agreed to walk back one feature of its controversial yoke steering wheel, as it will now provide a regular horn. When Tesla unveiled the new Model S with the “yoke” butterfly steering wheel, it was controversial. Some were worried about the actual shape of the wheel being problematic, while others were concerned about the lack of drive stalk to choose the drive mode.
As for the former, we thought that the automaker wouldn’t risk bringing the controversial yoke steering wheel to market without a nonlinear steering curve enabled by a steer-by-wire system – especially knowing that Tesla has been developing a steer-by-wire system.
However, as Tesla started deliveries of the new Model S Plaid last year, 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. CEO Elon Musk later confirmed that Tesla is indeed working on progressive steering, but it’s still years away. As for the lack of stalks, Tesla replaced all their functions with force touch buttons on the wheel, even for things like turn signals and the horn.
Musk’s logic is that “all input is an error”, and that the car should automatically perform all the functions that were on the stalks (now on the force touch buttons).
However, the capability is not quite there yet, especially when it comes to the horn, and Tesla has been quite stubborn when it comes to the yoke steering wheel. Despite several Model S Plaid prototypes spotted with regular steering wheels, the automaker has refused to offer it as an option.
Now, it looks like Tesla actually backed off on one feature.
A Redittor on /r/TeslaMotors spotted a new Tesla Model S with a sticker that said “Airbag horn enabled in SW-352573”:
Tesla appears to be testing a new version of its steering wheel with a regular horn activated that has a press on the center of the wheel where the airbag is located. Along with the turn signal, this has been amongst the most requested changes to the yoke steering wheel.
It’s not clear when the change could be coming to the production version of the Model S and Model X – Tesla’s two models using the yoke – but we have been expecting an update to the Model S after new design features were spotted on a new version of the Model S for international markets.