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Yoke No More: Why Tesla Is Now Offering a Standard Steering Wheel on the Model S and Model X
January 24, 2023

Yoke No More: Why Tesla Is Now Offering a Standard Steering Wheel on the Model S and Model X

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The yoke is one of the most complained-about features of the Model S and Model X.

Tesla tried to reinvent the wheel with the introduction of the steering yoke on its flagship Model S and Model X vehicles. The yoke was the only option available on Tesla’s most expensive sedan and SUV, but some people were annoyed at the shape of the ‘wheel’ while driving, as well as the implementation of the horn.

The disappearance of the traditional turn signal stalks also drew complaints. In a smart move by Tesla, the yoke is now optional, along with a circular wheel retrofit for existing customers that are fed up with the yoke.

Why Is Tesla Ditching the Steering Yoke?

Tesla will now offer a conventional (round) steering wheel on the Model S and Model X online configurator. The reason for the switch connected to numerous complaints, some of which can be seen on the NHTSA.GOV’s 2021 Model S info page.

Surprisingly enough, a point of concern was the location of the horn button on the yoke. Luckily, Tesla enabled mashing the yoke to activate the horn more traditionally, giving users another option instead of the capacitive buttons on the yoke.

Furthermore, while speaking to the Ride the Lightning podcast, Tesla Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausen explained that ‘If somebody loved the car [the Model X or the Model S] but the yoke was in the way, we want to remove that obstacle.’

Tesla Has Two Solutions For Its Yoke-Related Complaints

In a nod to appease potentially disgruntled customers of its two most expensive vehicles, Tesla has added the round steering wheel option to the online configurator for Model S and Model X.

The round steering wheel is a no-cost option, as is the yoke. But what happens to all the customers that bought vehicles when the yoke was forcibly included? Well, Tesla is offering these customers the choice to retrofit their yoke-ified vehicles with a round steering wheel. For the modest price of $700, of course.

If you go to Tesla’s Shop, you can look at the traditional steering wheel (stalk-free). Tesla says these steering wheels will become available in March 2023, so current yoke owners won’t have to suffer much longer.

The irony of customers having to pay Tesla to rid themselves of a strange steering device that was forced onto them in the first place is hilarious. But at least Tesla has shown some flexibility regarding the yoke.

However, some customers might not be completely appeased because the round steering wheel Tesla is offering is explicitly described as lacking a stalk. A major part of the potential annoyances introduced by the yoke center around the lack of stalks and how difficult the buttons on the yoke itself are to use, especially in emergencies.

This includes the awkward placement of the horn button, but also the high beam activator button on the yoke. The Tesla Model S owners manual demonstrates how cumbersome these controls are to use, especially for simple things like wipers.

Whenever you press the wiper button, the instrument panel displays the wiper menu, allowing you to adjust wiper settings. Roll the left scroll button on the steering yoke up or down to choose your desired setting.

Complicating the operation of one of the most basic features in a car is bad enough, but complicating the use of many of the most basic features in a car at the same time is just plain unnecessary. Especially when the device used to interface with these functionalities is already controversial.

Will the Yoke Appear on Other Tesla Models?

Tesla is an innovative company; nobody can say otherwise. But, some things don’t need to be innovated on. Trying to revolutionize the steering wheel might be a poor allocation of time and resources.

This is especially true when there are much more pertinent advances to be made when it comes to EV tech. Regardless, it’s great that Tesla is offering customers the option to return to a round steering wheel. Too bad it’s not free. The real question is, will the yoke trickle down to more Tesla models?


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