The Tesla Model S and Model X, which are getting a major upgrade in 2021, especially to the interior, are ditching the traditional steering wheel in favor of a “handlebar” similar to the one on board airplanes. But there seems to be quite a bit of demand for a traditional steering wheel, as the electric vehicle maker has announced that it will again offer a circular steering wheel as an option.
Tesla Model S or X buyers can opt for a round steering wheel
Today’s Model S and X have received some major changes in the way they are driven. In addition to the handle that replaces the steering wheel, Tesla’s premium cars have also done away with the levers on the sides. Thus, there is no longer a gear “shifter” and no signal lever. They won’t be back with the new round steering wheel either, but it looks like Tesla is at least taking feedback into consideration, suggesting that if enough customers complain, they may offer them again as an option.
The good news is that choosing a round steering wheel doesn’t add extra costs or longer wait times. The round steering wheel offers the same functionality as the handle, integrating capacitive buttons for signal and other functions, while the gearshift is “automatic”. That means the car will automatically shift into Drive, Reverse or Park mode depending on how it analyses the situation the car is in. Alternatively, you can change mode from the main touchscreen console.
The reason Tesla turned to the handle instead of a steering wheel is to increase visibility for the dashboard display, where information such as speed and remaining range are displayed, but where you can also see real-time information of the Full Self-Driving mode.
Facelift models for the Tesla Model 3 and Y are expected in 2023. Those haven’t been updated in a long time and, we expect to see similar on-board options as they haven’t had the control stick until now. At least we can assume that the choice between steering wheel and joystick will be available out of the box on these models.