- Tesla begins offering the yoke style steering as a $1000 option, after removing it as a standard feature from the Model S and Model X electric vehicles.
- The automaker is still expected to offer the yoke in the Cybertruck, the first deliveries of which are expected to begin in a matter of weeks.
- Tesla has not made the yoke part of a steer-by-wire system, unlike Toyota, though it is understood to have been working on such a system for the next generation of vehicles.
Tesla’s yoke steering arrived without much prior warning, landing in the Model S sedan in 2021 just as the automaker was readying an update for the now decade-old model. It also arrived seemingly without any prior demand for such a feature from buyers.
Initially offered as a standard feature in the Model S without the option of a regular steering wheel, the yoke quickly drew mixed reactions from Tesla fans and owners, with quite a few YouTube videos demonstrating some shortcomings as well as some advantages, like the ability to see the instrument cluster better.
But a number of industry observers pointed out early on, the yoke worked in Formula 1 cars because the steering ratio was dramatically different, requiring far less than a 360-degree rotation lock to lock.
In Teslas, on the other hand, the yoke required a few spins of the wheel to go from lock to lock, making it notably less advantageous for in-town driving and maneuvers in tight quarters. Tesla also removed the column stalk that controlled driving modes in the process of adding the yoke, migrating that function to the touchscreen.
The automaker responded by eventually making the yoke a $250 optional feature rather than a standard item, but not before quite a few Model S and Model X cars had been sold with the yoke steering.
Tesla also started offering retrofits of the round steering wheel to yoke-equipped cars for $700, in effect charging owners who had wanted to get rid of a standard feature.
Now, the price of the yoke option has ballooned to $1000, making it a curious and somewhat pricey option for those wanting a more sci-fi experience in the Model S or the Model X.
The yoke never made it into Tesla’s Model 3 and Model Y, which have accounted for the overwhelming majority of Tesla sales for the past several years.
But Tesla’s yoke steering saga did not unfold in a vacuum.
Less than a year after the updated Model S arrived with a yoke in 2021, Toyota demonstrated its own yoke system headed for the bZ4X electric SUV.
One of the main differences between the two systems was that Toyota’s was part of a steer-by-wire system, while Tesla simply offered different hardware. Tesla has indicated in the past that it would like to develop a steer-by-wire system for its vehicles, which has been a relatively niche technology for the past decade, offered sporadically and once even sparking a recall in the Infiniti Q50 a decade ago.
It remains to be seen just where Tesla’s fluctuating interest in the yoke will go from here.
The automaker’s most recent glimpses of Cybertruck interiors pictured the cabin equipped with a revised yoke, with the company so far not indicating whether a more traditional steering wheel will be an option at all.
This question should be answered in the next few weeks as the first Cybertruck deliveries are slated to start, barring any changes in that schedule.
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Jay Ramey grew up around very strange European cars, and instead of seeking out something reliable and comfortable for his own personal use he has been drawn to the more adventurous side of the dependability spectrum. Despite being followed around by French cars for the past decade, he has somehow been able to avoid Citroën ownership, judging them too commonplace, and is currently looking at cars from the former Czechoslovakia. Jay has been with Autoweek since 2013.