Tesla caused a lot of controversy when it announced that its refreshed Model S would only be available with a yoke instead of a traditional steering wheel, even though the manufacturer was nowhere near completing work on the variable-ration steer-by-wire system that could make that design work. The automaker is working on such a system, but it’s not ready for a production implementation yet.
Now that we have grown more accustomed to the yoke-only regime, and some of the initial buzz has died down, it is now causing owners frustration and possibly putting them at risk in some driving situations. Tesla has so far not announced any plans to offer a traditional round wheel as an alternative to the yoke, but it is clearly being considered.
Last month a Reddit user posted a photo from showing the yoke in a Tesla test vehicle with a sticker reading ‘Airbag horn enabled in SW-352573.’ This is proof Tesla is already testing adding a traditional horn to the yoke, which doesn’t have a physical horn you can press - in the Model S and Model X Plaid (the only yoke-equipped models), you sound the horn by tapping on a force touch button like the ones for the indicators.
Now green, the known Tesla hacker that's very active on Twitter, posted a screenshot he took in the Tesla Toolbox software showing a clear mention of a ‘steering wheel-yoke swap.’ We don’t know what this means exactly, other than the fact that since the diagnostic tool fond it in the car’s software, it’s there for a reason, and it could be that Tesla is preparing its cars for such a swap, but haven’t made it public yet.
It’s worth noting that early on, before the Model S Plaid was unveiled, there were sightings of Plaid prototypes with regular steering wheels. And right at launch, when most people were throwing their hands up as a form of protest towards the yoke, someone found a photo in the Tesla configurator app showing the refreshed Model S interior with a conventional steering wheel.
Will Tesla give in to pressure and stop being stubborn about the yoke, which objectively is worse than a circular wheel in so many ways? These are the first signs that it just might.